World War II brought year-round operation to Brown and turned the campus into a military training ground. The summer of 1942 ushered in the accelerated program with 700 students enrolled in the added semester. Included were 90% of the senior class trying to complete their courses and 198 freshmen getting a start of their education. President Wriston’s message to the students on campus that summer was, “The armed forces need a steady flow of educated personnel. To this end, the Secretaries of War and of the Navy have issued a joint statement which first emphasizes that the country can no longer afford to have young men proceed with their education at the regular tempo, and second, urges those who are willing to put forth an intensive effort to continue in college.” In spite of the serious situation, the life of the college went on in the summer as if it were a normal semester. The freshmen wore their freshman caps until mid-July, because they lost the flag rush to the sophomores, losing thereby an opportunity to remove them earlier. The Glee Club, Band, Sock and Buskin, and the Brown Network went on as usual. The most unusual happening seemed to be the joint use of the Colgate Hoyt Pool by both Brown and Pembroke students. Faculty members, as well as students, were leaving the campus for war service. Major Robert W. Kenny ’25 and Lt. Col. Zenas R. Bliss ’18 of the National Guard were now on active duty. Robert H. George joined the Army and Carl Bridenbaugh the Navy. Other professors and instructors left also, some to war advisory positions in Washington. Cooperating in the war effort, Brown sought and secured a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, and Brown’s first V-7 training course had more students than any other New England college. As the third semester of academic year 1942-43 began in February, 1943, nearly 300 students who were members of the Army Enlisted Reserve Corps left for active duty. Others were deferred for premedical, engineering, and chemistry study, and some students were members of the Naval Reserve and the Marine Corps Reserve. The Naval ROTC unit had 237 men expected to be commissioned in July.
From May 1943 to May 1944 pre-meteorologists of the 58th Army Air Force Technical Training Detachment studied at Brown under three successive commanding officers, Major Arthur B. Campbell, Capt. George V. Weber, and Capt Clifford W. Parliament. The “B” unit graduated 157 men selected for mathematical ability at the end of a six-month course in September 1943. The “C” unit began a 48 week training program on May 3, 1943. The men in the premeteorology program published a volume similar to a yearbook, called Pass in Review, as a record of their year at Brown. They also published the Brownian Movement, which first appeared as a single-sheet newsletter on July 9, 1943, for the purpose of “confirming, denying, and preserving rumors and facts.”
July 1, 1943, the first day of the summer semester was also the date on which the Navy V-12 program began on 131 college campuses across the nation. At this time Brown had about 600 Navy V-12 students who came from four different sources. There were 1) the new V-12 students who were mostly selected by the Navy from secondary schools for college training, although a few had already been on active duty with the Navy. 2) the former V-1 students who came from junior and senior colleges and had joined the Navy as freshmen or sophomores before March 1943 and had been on inactive duty. Many of these had been civilian students at Brown. 3) the former V-7 students who had joined the Navy as juniors and seniors and were close to being commissioned. 4) The Naval ROTC students who had been enlisted in the Brown unit which started in 1940. Civilian freshmen continued to be admitted, although some of them were to leave when they received military orders. During the war, the University leased the fraternity houses and used them for civilian dormitories and dining halls.
When the news of Japan’s surrender came, the ringing of the University Hall bell brought students, civilian and Navy, out of their dormitories to unite with an impromptu band in a parade to the Pembroke campus, where the women joined the procession which went down Thayer Street and stopped at the flagpole for the singing of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Classes were suspended and a convocation called in Sayles Hall, at which Bruce Bigelow delivered a moving speech citing Brown’s contribution and honoring those who had died. The former students of the University who lost their lives in the war numbered 177, ranging from the Class of 1907 to the Class of 1947 and including four graduate students and one woman. Shortly after the end of the war, Major General William Curtis Chase ’16 donated to the University a flag which had been captured by the Japanese from the headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur in Manila in 1942 and recaptured in February 1945 by the 12th U. S. Cavalry, a unit in Chase’s division. A postwar gift of reconciliation was received from the Japanese ambassador in the form of a Yoshino cherry tree which was planted near the Barus-Holley Building.