The Escutcheon

Volume 15

Number 2 – Lent Term, 2010

Bull College (?) Cambridge, 1945-1946

In 1945, the Bull Hotel in Trumpington Street became the headquarters for group of United States servicemen who had been enrolled on University courses under the auspices of an ongoing U.S. Army programme to improve their morale and prepare them for their return to civilian life. Several of the “students” were allocated places in the Colleges but well over half of them had rooms in the Bull Hotel. The then Provost of Kings indicated that he would refer to them as members of “Bull College”.

Within a few weeks the G.I.s elected their own Major as Principal and adopted a livery and the Armorial (shown above) designed by one of their number, Al Kohler. They participated in University life in full, joining the Cambridge Union and involving themselves in inter-collegiate sporting activities including rowing: in the Lent Bumps their cox was a girl from Oklahoma – a notable first.

By March 1946 it became clear that this remarkably successful experiment in education was unlikely to become a permanent feature, so those involved drafted the following resolutions:

Whereas, while pursuing our chosen fields of learning at Cambridge University under the guidance of some of the world’s greatest scholars, we have also learned to live and to work with people of another great nation, and have made progress toward an intelligent grasp of that nation’s problems; &
Whereas, at the same time, other Cambridge students have learned about us and have gained some appreciation of the national and international problems gacing our own country; and
Whereas, the world suffers grievously for want of such better understanding between nations; therefore be it
Resolved that we extend thanks to the agencies, in both countries which have made it possible for one-hundred-fifty members of the United States Army to attend Cambridge University, England for the Michaelmas term, 1945, and be it further
Resolved that the appropriate agency of the United Nations Organization be urged, through this resolution, to bring about in the future a great increase in the number of students who are to be exchanged among the several United Nations.”

These resolutions were signed by every member of the class of 1945 and the resultant document was framed. It, together with a carved wooden shield, bearing Al Kohler’s design, shown below, are both in the custody of the Librarian at St Catharine’s College, whose collaboration is gratefully acknowledged.

Very little else has survived from this unique collaboration apart from a few armorial stickers and copies of the magazine, The Cambridge Bull.

The Bull Hotel, which had been requisitioned during the War, reverted to St Catharine’s College and promptly was utilised to accommodate new intake of undergraduates returning from military service during World War II.

It is understood that W. H. Bevan is actively researching G.I. Colleges in Europe and is seeking information from anyone who has relevant details. If you can help please contact him on

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