The story of the U.S. Army Universities in Europe is unique. Their effect on many thousands of lives was profound, and their lightning-fast establishment stands as an achievement unprecedented in educational history.
In a few months, whole colleges were conjured out of nothing in Italy (Florence) to serve troops from the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, and in England (Shrivenham) and France (Biarritz) for those from the European Theater. In addition, a technical school was opened near the English village of Warton; and small numbers of personnel were enrolled in existing universities, including Oxford, Cambridge and the Sorbonne.
Remarkably, the programme has been the subject of very little research. In particular, hardly any testimony of the soldier-students themselves appears to have been solicited.
The aim of the GI University Project is to gather as much primary source material as possible on these unique institutions. Primarily, we hope to trace and interview veterans who attended them, and record their stories for posterity. The ultimate goal is to produce a full-length work on the U.S. Army Universities in Europe, aimed at a general readership.
Can you help? Whether you’re a veteran of the educational programme, know someone who is, or have documentary evidence that you would be willing to share, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please click here to contact us.
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The GI University Project is totally independent initiative, unaffiliated to any institution, academic or military. It is being co-ordinated by the British writer and editor William Ham Bevan, a former London newspaper journalist now based in South Wales. His interest in the subject began through researching and writing this feature for CAM, the alumni magazine published by Cambridge University.