United States Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School

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United States Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School
Active1940 - 1945
CountryUnited States
BranchUnited States Naval Reserve
RolePost-college course for training U.S. Navy junior officers

The United States Navy Reserve Midshipmen's School was an expedited auxiliary naval officer training program instituted in June, 1940.[1] Its goal was to train a planned 36,000 Naval Reserve officers for commands in the vastly-expanding U.S. Navy fleet being built up in preparation for the United States' entry into World War II.

To achieve this, several new Naval Reserve Midshipmen's Schools were established mainly on college campuses around the country. Between 1940 and 1945 their junior officer candidates, many alumni of the Navy's V-12 training, completed a 30-day indoctrination course before entering the midshipman school's 90-day V-7 Navy College Training Program.[2] After successful completion, graduates were commissioned as ensigns in the U.S. Naval Reserve. The majority entered into active duty with the U.S. fleet[3] in the Pacific Theater during the war.[4]


Insignia of a United States Navy ensign

The first United States Naval Reserve Midshipman's school conducting V-7 training was established on board the converted battleship USS Illinois (BB-7) in New York City during the spring of 1940. Others followed at Columbia University, Cornell University, Northwestern University, University of Notre Dame, and Smith College. Enrollment closed in August 1945.

V-7 program[edit]

The V-7 program of voluntary training for officer candidates was announced on June 26, 1940 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Its goal was to rapidly train 36,000 young officers needed to meet the demands of a vastly expanding naval fleet being built up in preparation for U.S. entry into World War II. By March 1941, eighteen months into the global conflict and nine months before Pearl Harbor, the Navy had only 18,000 officers. Most were stationed in the Far East, where the U.S.' lack of an Army presence left the Navy to bear the full burden in the event of war.[4]

V-7 applicants between the ages of 19 and 27 had to meet the same rigid physical requirements as midshipmen in the United States Naval Academy. To be accepted, candidates were required to join the Naval Reserve and to have either a college degree, the equivalent in practical experience, or to have successfully completed the V-12 Navy College Training Program.[5] Following a one-month indoctrination course as apprentice seamen they attended the 90-day midshipmen's school V-7 program, where instruction was provided in ordnance and gunnery, seamanship, navigation and engineering.[6] Graduates were awarded an ensign's commission and placed in active status.[6]


Initially, the V-7 program was offered to any college junior or senior.[6] The first class was graduated from the reserve midshipmen's school Prairie State hosted aboard the converted battleship USS Illinois in New York City. All but 32 of its 264 commissioned junior officers reported for active duty. During December 1940 the second class in the program graduated from the midshipmen school at Northwestern University.[3]

U.S. Navy midshipmen from the school Prairie State board a motor launch from the battleship USS New York (BB-34) during the U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen's cruise in the summer of 1940. This was the first graduating class in the V-7 midshipmen program.[7]


During 1941 admission requirements were changed and applicants were required to have attained a college degree with one course in plane trigonometry and one additional year of mathematics.[6] The final deadline for college juniors, seniors and graduates who were single and under age 28 to sign up was May 1, 1942. After that, only applicants between 17 and 20 were eligible, who were enlisted in Class V-1 to complete their college courses.[8] The third and fourth V-7 classes graduated from the midshipman school at Northwestern in 1941. The fifth was graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.[3]


The Navy closed enrollment in the V-7 program on August 25, 1945. The 5,000 midshipmen still in training were permitted to complete their courses at Columbia University, University of Notre Dame, Cornell University, Fort Schuyler in New York State, and the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.[9]


Prairie State[edit]

USNR Midshipmen's School Prairie State was conducted aboard the converted USS Illinois (BB-7) in the 1940s or 1950s.

During the spring of 1940, U.S. Naval Reserve Midshipman School, Prairie State, was opened on board the converted battleship USS Illinois (BB-7) in New York City with Captain John J. London in command.[7] The first class in the midshipmen program produced 264 new officers during the early days of World War II before the U.S. was involved, 232 of whom reported for active duty.[3]

The second V-7 class at Prairie State began November 22 after its officer candidates had finished their initial training cruise on the USS New York (BB-34) during the summer of 1940.[7] A total of 480 junior officers from it graduated in February 1941.[4]

Columbia University[edit]

The U.S. Naval Reserve Midshipmen School at Columbia University in New York, New York was opened on August 20, 1940.[10] Twelve buildings at Columbia's Morningside Heights campus served as a training center and housing. The university also hosted a V-12 program to train doctors and dentists for military service.[11]

By January 1943 2,600 students were enrolled in three-month-long courses at Columbia. That same month, the "Naval Lions," the midshipman school's first athletic team, made their debut in track and field championships at the Metropolitan A.A.U. meet.[12]

Columbia was the largest midshipmen school in the country by late 1943, turning out some 9,000 ensigns a year---more than ten times the number graduated from Annapolis in June 1943. "The school 'placed marks in the corridors' where thousands of '90-day-wonders' turned a 'smart' 90-degree corner on their way to class," reported the Massilon, Ohio Evening Independent.[13] Some 23,000 ensigns graduated from it before it closed.[10]

The V-7 course at Columbia provided the fictional setting for the early chapters of the World War II novel The Caine Mutiny.

Cornell University[edit]

The U.S. Naval Reserve Midshipmen School at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, opened on March 3, 1944, with a capacity of 800 students and Captain Burton W. Chippendale in command.[1] In August 1945, the Navy Department ordered discontinuance of the Midshipmen's School upon completion of the 18th class, which had begun instruction on August 10, 1945. The last graduates of the school were commissioned on December 7, 1945, the fourth anniversary of Pearl Harbor.[14]

The Naval Indoctrination School at Camp MacDonough in Plattsburg, New York, opened on March 6, 1944, with a capacity of 2,500 and Commander Chauncey M. Loutrit in command. It conducted the one-month one-month class required prior to attending a midshipmen's school.[1]

After the war, officer training was continued at Cornell in the NROTC established on November 1, 1945, and in the University's Diesel School.[14]

Northwestern University[edit]

Over 25,000 Naval Reserve midshipmen were trained at Northwestern University during World War II

The U.S. Naval Reserve Midshipmen School at Northwestern University ran from September 1940 through 1945.[6] Home of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) since 1926, the university also offered its facilities to the entire War Department. A total of 11 training programs, including those of the U.S. Army and the Civil Aeronautics Administration, were offered to potential military officers.[6]

Following the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Northwestern President Franklyn Bliss Snyder telegraphed President Franklin D. Roosevelt to volunteer the "entire resources of the University" to the war effort.[15] The university immediately admitted students who had finished three years of high school, instituting summer sessions to allow them to complete their degree requirements before the minimum draft age of 20.[16] Northwestern switched its academic calendar from semesters to quarters to facilitate these changes, which has persisted this day.[16]

The V-7 Program midshipmen's school was established in the newly constructed Abbott Hall dormitory in 1940.[17] It was the largest of the military programs in operation on the University's Chicago campus. V-7 cadets trained on the shores of Lake Michigan.[18]

A total of 25 classes graduated 26,750 "90-day wonders" by the end of the war, including future President ensign John F. Kennedy,[17] who attended a separate "accelerated" two-month training program held for commissioned officers in 1941.[6]

Lt. Harriet Ida Pickens and Ens. Frances Wills, the first African-American Waves to be commissioned, were members of the final graduating class at USNR Midshipmen's School (WR) Northampton, Massachusetts on December 21, 1944.

Notre Dame[edit]

U.S. Naval Reserve Midshipmen School at University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana was in operation by late 1942.[2] The Navy built a new drill hall on campus, with Captain H. P. Burnett in command. A survey taken in October 1942 of its 1,300 midshipmen, revealed that 75 percent participated in intercollegiate or advanced intramural athletics and that no fewer than 25 percent had won letters in intercollegiate competition.[2] On January 28, 1943, 1,200 new officers were graduated.[19]

Smith College[edit]

The Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, trained junior officers of the Women's Reserve of the U.S. Naval Reserve (WAVES). Nicknamed "USS Northampton," it accepted 120 women on August 28, 1942.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Plattsburgh and Cornell to Train Navy V-12 Grads". Salamanca Republican-Press. Salamanca, New York. February 28, 1944.
  2. ^ a b c "75 Per Cent of Middies Are Former Athletes". Amarillo Daily News. Amarillo, Texas. October 30, 1942.
  3. ^ a b c d "Ohio Has 14 Among Navy Reserve Grads". Steubenville Herald Star. Steubenville, Ohio. December 12, 1940.
  4. ^ a b c "Ensign Keathley to Report Fleet Stationed Hawaii". Corsicana Daily Sun. Corsicana, Texas. March 5, 1941.
  5. ^ "Naval Organization". ibiblio, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Film: USNR Midshipmen's School, Chicago, 1942". Northwestern University, 2008. Retrieved September 19, 2011.
  7. ^ a b c "Six Newporters Begin Reserve Training". Newport Mercury and Weekly News. Newport, Rhode Island. November 29, 1943.
  8. ^ "V-7 Navy Program Plan Deadline Set". Port Arthur News. Port Arthur, Texas. April 10, 1942.
  9. ^ "Enlistments Ended in Navy V-7 Program". San Mateo Times. San Mateo, California. August 25, 1945.
  10. ^ a b Cook, Maynard (November 8, 1945). "Side Views". The Harlem Valley Times. Amenia, New York.
  11. ^ "Columbia University Roll of Honor". Columbia University, 2011. Retrieved September 22, 2011.
  12. ^ "Columbia Midshipmen Will Have Athletics". Alton Evening Telegraph. Alton, Illinois. January 19, 1943.
  13. ^ Wolf, Arlene (August 25, 1943). "Columbia Gets the Navy Blues". Evening Independent. Massilon, Ohio.
  14. ^ a b "Cornell's Midshipmen School Ordered Closed". Corning N.Y. Leader. Corning, New York. August 4, 1945.
  15. ^ Quinn, Patrick (Winter 1993). "Wartime on Campus" (PDF). Northwestern Perspective. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
  16. ^ a b "Records of Naval Training Program (1934-1960)" (PDF). Northwestern University Archives. Retrieved 2008-07-11.
  17. ^ a b "Northwestern Architecture, Abbott Hall". Northwestern University Library. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
  18. ^ "Northwestern University Historic Moments". Northwestern University, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2011.
  19. ^ "Midshipmen's School at Notre Dame to Graduate 1,200 on January 28". Freeport Journal-Standard. Freeport, Illinois. January 16, 1943.
  20. ^ "Naval History - August 28". Lake Minnetonka Liberty, 2011. Archived from the original on April 2, 2012. Retrieved September 19, 2011.

External links[edit]