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A US Army servicewoman with an English friend at Shrivenham American University in 1945

In May 1945, the U.S. Army's Information and Educational Branch was ordered to establish an overseas university campus for demobilized American service men and women in Florence, Italy. Two further campuses were later established, in August 1945: the first in the French resort town of Biarritz and the second in the English town of Shrivenham, Berkshire. These three campuses were set up to provide a transition between army life and subsequent attendance at a university in the USA, and therefore students attended for just one term.

Students removed their caps, and therefore the distinction between officers and enlisted personnel was eliminated.[1]

Florence American University

The first American university for service personnel was established in June 1945 at the School of Aeronautics in Florence, Italy. Some 7,500 soldier-students were to pass through the university during its four one-month sessions.

Biarritz American University

Under General Samuel L. McCroskey, the hotels and casinos of Biarritz were converted into quarters, labs, and class spaces for U.S. service personnel. The university opened 10 August 1945, and approximately 10,000 students attended at least one eight-week term. After three successful terms, the university closed in March 1946.[2]

Shrivenham American University

Under General C. M. Thiele, a British Army Camp near Swindon was converted into a university campus. After two successful terms, the university closed in December 1945. About 4,000 students attended each term.


  • anon. "Contented G.I. s". Time 46, 21 (19 November 1945): 77–78.
  • Beardsley, Wilfred Attwood. "Teaching Languages in the Army University in Florence." Hispania Vol. 30, No. 1 (Feb. 1947): 27–31.
  • Bone, Robert Gehlmann. A History of Shrivenham American University. Swindon: Swindon Press, 1946.
  • Dickman, A.J. "The G.I. University in Shrivenham, England: 1 August to 5 December 1945. The French Review 20 (1945): 18–20.
  • MacKenzie, Norman. "Shrivenham." New Statesman and Nation, 17 Nov 1945, p. 329.
  • Schmidt, George P. and Umstattd, J. G. "The American Army University at Biarritz, France." Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors. Vol. 32, No. 2 (Summer, 1946): 303–316
  • Umstattd, J. G. "Methods of Teaching Used at Biarritz American University." Journal of Higher Education 18 (1947): 249–53.


  1. The Biarritz American University (The BAU)
  2. George P. Schmidt and J. G. Umstattd. "The American Army University at Biarritz, France", Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors, Vol. 32, No. 2 (Summer, 1946): 303–316.

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