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UB and World War II: Home

Last Updated: Nov 19, 2021 3:25 PM

When the United States entered World War II, the entire country mobilized and contributed to the war effort.  At the nation's colleges and universities, students, faculty and staff joined the armed services and war-related government administrations.  Many colleges and universities also provided technical education and training for military recruits and for civilians working in war-related industries.  This guide provides information about how the University of Buffalo participated in the war effort and how those who are interested can learn more about the subject.

A long line of men in military uniform march in formation down a sidewalk outside Hayes Hall, circa 1943

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Students, Alumni, Faculty and Staff in World War II

Students and Alumni

  • 1,714 alumni and approximately the same number of students were members of the armed forces during World War II.
  • 27 alumni and students were known to have been killed in action as of December 1945.  As more information became known, over 40 other names would be added to the list of the fallen.
  • Genevieve Grotjan (BA 1936, Mathematics) was a cryptanalyst for the United States Signal Intelligence Service and was responsible for breaking Code Purple, the code used by high-level Japanese diplomats.  The breaking of this code is said to have contributed to the United States' victory in the Battle of Midway.

Faculty and Staff

  • 25% of the faculty were granted leaves of absence. 
    • Most entered in the armed services while others served in war-related civilian agencies such as the Office of Scientific Research and Development and the War Manpower Commission.
    • One professor provided essential research to the development of the V-T proximity fuse used in anti-aircraft and artillery shells.
    • Professors who remained at the university took on increased course loads, especially when the UB began instructing military students.
  • Two staff, six alumni and one uniformed graduate made contributions to the development of the atomic bomb.