Mary Darnaby Henton
Submitted by: Zack Austin
Mary Darnaby Henton born around 1894. Mary Henton served in World War 1 with the United States Army. The enlistment was in 1918 and the service was completed in 1919.
Story of Service
Darnaby (as she preferred to be called) was born the fifth child of farmers James Henton and Bettie Hampton in Versailles, Kentucky in 1894.
She was one of 7,600 women to volunteer for 100 positions advertised by the War Department in newspapers throughout the US calling for “patriotic women” to serve as “full-fledged soldier[s]” willing to face the dangers of submarine warfare and aerial bombardment. She followed her brother Sam, already serving as a Battalion Sergeant Major in the 326th Field Artillery Regiment, into the service, proud to be a member of America’s first unit of female soldiers outside of the Nurse Corps—the “Hello Girls”.
The first Hello Girls took the Army oath on January 15, 1918. By operating switchboards relaying orders and providing real-time translation from French to English, the women would “do as much to help win the war as the men in khaki who would go ‘over the top’” according to the War Department.
Darnaby is one of the 223 female telephone operators on wartime US Army Transport lists. She departed New York with the second group of women on March 29, 1918, aboard the armed ocean liner RMS Carmania. The Chief Operator overseeing her unit was Inez Crittenden from San Francisco.