Military Wiki
United States Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School
Active 1940 - 1945
Country United States
Branch United States Naval Reserve
Type Training
Role Post-college course for training U.S. Navy junior officers

The United States Navy Reserve Midshipmen's School, known as the Navy College Training Program, V-7, was announced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 26, 1940,[1] to recruit 36,000 naval reserve officers to command the vasty expanding fleet in preparation for the war effort. The majority of the junior officers who graduated from the schools were dedicated to operations in the Far East, known as the Pacific Theater during World War II.[2] During the years 1940 to 1945, graduates of the V-12 Navy College Training Program; whose purpose was to grant bachelor's degrees to future officers, as well as "increased numbers" of enlisted men from the naval fleet, attended the new officer training midshipmen's schools which were located on several college campuses around the country. The apprentice seamen attended the program for 90-days after successful completion of a 30-day indoctrination course.[3] Graduates of the schools were commissioned as ensigns in the U.S. Naval Reserve and the majority entered into active duty with the U.S. fleet.[4]


Insignia of an ensign, United States Navy

This program of voluntary training was announced on June 26, 1940, by the President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Applicants were between the age of 19 and 27 and were required to meet the same "rigid physical requirements" as midshipmen in the United States Naval Academy. The candidates were listed as apprentice seamen in the Naval Reserve of the United States in a class designated as V-7. Midshipmen were required to have either a college degree, or the equivalent in practical experience, or to have successfully completed the Navy V-12 college curriculum.[5]

The goal of the program was to train 36,000 young officers quickly in order to meet the demands of the expanding naval fleet in preparation for World War II. By March 1941, the Navy had only 18,000 officer personnel. Most of the officers who were commissioned were dedicated to operations in the Far East where the navy was "forced to bear the full burden in the event of war."[2]

The first class in the program was graduated from the reserve midshipmen's school in the battleship USS Illinois (BB-7) in New York City and 232 of the 264 commissioned junior officers reported for active duty. During December 1940, the second class to be commissioned in the midshipmen program graduated from Northwestern University as did the third and fourth classes in 1941. The fifth class was graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.[4]

V-7 program[]

U.S. Navy midshipmen and sailors board a 15 m (50 ft) 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.[6]

In 1940, the V-7 program "was offered to any college junior or senior." Candidates were required to enlist in the Naval Reserve and following a one-month indoctrination course as apprentice seaman, they attended a three-month course in the midshipmen's school. Upon completion of the program, candidates were awarded an ensign's commission and placed in active status.[7] Instruction was provided in ordnance and gunnery, seamanship, navigation and engineering.[7] During 1941, admission requirements were changed and applicants were required to have attained a college degree as well as one course in plane trigonometry and one additional year of mathematics.[7] 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 day, only applicants between 17 and 20 where eligible for the program and they were enlisted in Class V-1 to complete their college courses.[8]

The Navy announced on August 25, 1945, that no more students would be permitted to enter the naval reserve midshipmen (V-7) program. At that time, 5,000 midshipmen were in training and were permitted to complete their courses at Columbia University, University of Notre Dame, Cornell University and at Fort Schuyler in New York State, as well as the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.[9]

Midshipmen schools[]

Battleship USS Illinois[]

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

During the spring of 1940, U.S. Naval Reserve Midshipman School, Prairie State, was opened on board battleship USS Illinois (BB-7) in New York City under the leadership of commanding officer Captain John J. London.[6] The first class that finished the midshipmen program during the early days of World War II were graduates of the battleship. The class contained 264 men and 232 reported for active duty.[4] The second three-month class on the battleship began on November 22, 1940, after the men finished their initial training cruise that summer on USS New York (BB-34).[6] A total of 480 junior officers from the class graduated in February 1941.[2]

Columbia University[]

The U.S. Naval Reserve Midshipmen School at Columbia University in New York, New York was opened on August 20, 1940.[10] Columbia's Morningside Heights campus served as a training center and made use of 12 Columbia-owned buildings to house the midshipmen's school. The university also hosted a V-12 program which "trained doctors and dentists for military service."[11]

By January 1943, there were 2,600 students enrolled in three-month long courses. That same month, the "Naval Lions," the schools 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."[13] The school graduated 23,000 ensigns before it closed.[10]

Cornell University[]

The U.S. Naval Reserve Midshipmen School at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, was opened on March 3, 1944, with Captain Burton W. Chippendale as commanding officer. The school had a capacity of 800 students.[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] At the same time, Naval Indoctrination School at Camp MacDonough in Plattsburg, New York, opened on March 6, 1944, and was led by Commander Chauncey M. Loutrit. The duration of the instruction, which was required prior to attending a midshipmen's school, was a brief one-month and the class capacity was 2,500.[1]

After the war, officer training was continued at Cornell in the NROTC unit which was established on November 1, 1945, and in the Diesel School for officers.[14]

Northwestern University[]

The United States Navy trained over 25,000 midshipmen at Northwestern University during World War II.

The U.S. Naval Reserves Midshipmen's School at Northwestern University was established in September 1940, and was in operation until 1945. During World War II, Northwestern's "stated objective" was to dedicate its full resources to aid in winning the war.[7] The university also offered its facilities for use by the War Department including the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and the Civil Aeronautics Administration. A total of 11 training programs in addition to the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC), established in 1926, were offered to potential military officers.[7] 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."[15] The university admitted students who had finished three years of high school as well as instituting summer sessions to allow them to complete their degree requirements before the minimum draft age of 20.[16] Notably, Northwestern switched its academic calendar from a semester to a quarter system to facilitate these changes and this quarter system persisted after the war into the present day.[16]

The V-7 Program midshipmen's school was the largest of the military programs in operation on the Chicago campus and was established in the newly-constructed Abbott Hall dormitory in 1940.[17] The cadets also made use of the shores of Lake Michigan for training purposes.[18]

This school graduated 25 classes of "90-day wonders" (a total of 26,750 ensigns) by the end of the war, including future President John F. Kennedy,[17] who attended a separate "accelerated" two-month training program which was held for commissioned officers in 1941.[7]

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

Notre Dame[]

U.S. Naval Reserve Midshipmen School at University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana was in operation by late 1942. The apprentice seamen attended the program for 90-days after successful completion of a 30-day indoctrination course.[3] A survey taken in October 1942, of 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.[3]

The Navy built a new drill hall on the campus. Captain H. P. Burnett was the commanding officer of the school. On January 28, 1943, 1,200 more officers were presented their diplomas and then sworn in as officers in the giant new hall.[19]

Smith College[]

The Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, was training grounds for junior officers of the Women's Reserve of the U.S. Naval Reserve (WAVES) and was nicknamed "USS Northampton." On August 28, 1942, a total of 120 women reported to the school for training.[20]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Plattsburgh and Cornell to Train Navy V-12 Grads". Salamanca, New York. February 28, 1944. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Ensign Keathley to Report Fleet Stationed Hawaii". Corsicana, Texas. March 5, 1941. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "75 Per Cent of Middies Are Former Athletes". Amarillo, Texas. October 30, 1942. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Ohio Has 14 Among Navy Reserve Grads". Steubenville, Ohio. December 12, 1940. 
  5. "Naval Organization". ibiblio, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Six Newporters Begin Reserve Training". Newport, Rhode Island. November 29, 1943. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 "Film: USNR Midshipmen's School, Chicago, 1942". Northwestern University, 2008. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  8. "V-7 Navy Program Plan Deadline Set". Port Arthur, Texas. April 10, 1942. 
  9. "Enlistments Ended in Navy V-7 Program". San Mateo, California. August 25, 1945. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Cook, Maynard (November 8, 1945). "Side Views". Amenia, New York. 
  11. "Columbia University Roll of Honor". Columbia University, 2011. Retrieved September 22, 2011. 
  12. "Columbia Midshipmen Will Have Athletics". Alton, Illinois. January 19, 1943. 
  13. Wolf, Arlene (August 25, 1943). "Columbia Gets the Navy Blues". Massilon, Ohio. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Cornell's Midshipmen School Ordered Closed". Corning, New York. August 4, 1945. 
  15. Quinn, Patrick (Winter 1993). "Wartime on Campus" (PDF). Northwestern Perspective. Retrieved 2008-07-07. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Records of Naval Training Program (1934-1960)" (PDF). Northwestern University Archives. Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 "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, Illinois. January 16, 1943. 
  20. "Naval History - August 28". Lake Minnetonka Liberty, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 

External links[]

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