Brig. General William H. Wilbur

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William Hale Wilbur

Birthdate: (91)
Birthplace: Palmer, Massachusetts, United States
Death: Died in Fort Myers, Florida, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Wilbur and Edith Smart
Husband of Laura Wilbur
Father of William Wilbur

Managed by: Edward Schieffelin Murphy
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Brig. General William H. Wilbur

Wilbur joined the Army from his birth city of Palmer, Massachusetts,[1] and graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1912. He also attended the French military academy École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr as a classmate of Charles de Gaulle and saw combat in World War I.[2]

On November 8, 1942 Wilbur, now a colonel, participated in Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of French North Africa. He served on the staff of Major General George S. Patton as part of the Western Task Force, charged with capturing the city of Casablanca, Morocco, from the Vichy French forces. Several American officers, including Wilbur, were chosen to carry messages to French commanders who were believed to be sympathetic towards the Allies. Wilbur was to contact Admiral François Michelier, commander of the French naval forces in Casablanca, and deliver to him a letter from General Patton. The Allies hoped to gain assistance from these French commanders, or at least convince them to lay down their arms and not oppose the invasion.[2]

After landing with the first assault wave in Fedala, Wilbur approached the French lines under a white flag of truce and was escorted to their division headquarters. Finding that his intermediate contact there had been arrested for treason, he attempted to give the letter to the presiding general. The general refused to accept it, so Wilbur placed the letter on the man's desk and left. Before reaching his vehicle, he was stopped by another officer who offered to take him to Admiral Michelier. Upon arriving at the admiral's headquarters, he was turned away; Michelier refused to meet with him. Wilbur headed back to the American lines in Fedala.[2]

After arriving back at the Allied-held beachhead, Wilbur led an attack against a French artillery battery. One of the few French guns still firing in the area, the battery was targeting Allied ships off shore. Wilbur gathered four tanks and a company of infantry to assault the position. He personally accompanied the group, riding along on the lead tank, and commanded them in the successful capture of the battery.[2]

Wilbur was approved for the Medal of Honor two months later, on January 13, 1943.[1] The medal was presented to him by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during a ceremony in Casablanca on January 22, 1943, in the midst of the Casablanca Conference. Also in attendance were General George Marshall, the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, and Major General Patton.

Wilbur continued to serve for the remainder of the war, rising to the rank of brigadier general. As deputy commander of the 36th Infantry Division during the Italian Campaign, he participated in the Allied landings in Salerno and the subsequent fighting through the winter of 1943-1944. He was then stationed in east Asia before retiring from the Army in 1947.[3]

[edit] Later life

A strident anti-communist, Wilbur became involved in the political discourse regarding the Korean War. South Korean president Syngman Rhee had offered him an official advisory post before the war, but he declined the position. In 1950, his son, Army Lieutenant William H. Wilbur, Jr., was killed in Korea and posthumously awarded the Army's second-highest honor, the Distinguished Service Cross. Wilbur was a vocal supporter of then-Presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower's plan to withdraw American troops from Korea, giving several speeches on the topic in 1952.[4]

He was also involved in law enforcement, serving on the Chicago Crime Commission and briefly as warden of the Cook County Jail. He authored several non-fiction books, including The Making of George Washington (1973, ISBN 978-0912530024) and Freedom Must Not Perish (1964).[2]

He died at age 91 and was buried in West Point Cemetery on the grounds of his alma mater, the U.S. Military Academy.[2]

Graduate of United States Military Academy at West Point

5042—COL William H. Wilbur, Class of 1912

"Rank and organization: Colonel, U.S. Army, Western Task Force, North Africa. Place and date: Fedala, North Africa, 8 November 1942. Entered service at: Palmer, Mass. Birth: Palmer, Mass. G.O. No.: 2, 13 January 1943. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty. Col. Wilbur prepared the plan for making contact with French commanders in Casablanca and obtaining an armistice to prevent unnecessary bloodshed. On 8 November 1942, he landed at Fedala with the leading assault waves where opposition had developed into a firm and continuous defensive line across his route of advance. Commandeering a vehicle, he was driven toward the hostile defenses under incessant fire, finally locating a French officer who accorded him passage through the forward positions. He then proceeded in total darkness through 16 miles of enemy-occupied country intermittently subjected to heavy bursts of fire, and accomplished his mission by delivering his letters to appropriate French officials in Casablanca. Returning toward his command, Col. Wilbur detected a hostile battery firing effectively on our troops. He took charge of a platoon of American tanks and personally led them in an attack and capture of the battery. From the moment of landing until the cessation of hostile resistance, Col. Wilbur's conduct was voluntary and exemplary in its coolness and daring."

Source: http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/wwII-t-z.html

   * Graduated from West Point, 25th in the class of 1912 (p. 33)
   * Promoted to Brig Gen shortly after MOH mission (p. 33)
   * Requested Capt. James D. Sumner, Jr., as his unofficial aide-de-camp, still on Patton's staff (p. 33)
   * Blunt, "crass personality", intelligent, highly disciplined, by the book, "22 dash Wilbur" (infantry field manual was 225), not well liked by the officers under him (p. 33)
   * Friends with Keyes (II Corps commander), spent time together in North Africa in 1943 with Patton (p. 88)
   * Was on Gen. Mark Wayne Clark's staff at Salerno (p. 95)
   * September 15, 1943 - replaced Brig. Gen Otto F. Lange as assistant division commander, 36th Infantry (p. 33)
   * Thought the Rapido crossing was a mistake (p. 33)
   * January 20, 1944, crossing of the Rapido, sent by Walker to the 141st Regiment command post to oversee the battle (p. 32)
   * Observed the first attack from area of Company F, 141st (page 57)
   * Morning of January 21 ordered everyone on the American side to withdraw, those who crossed to dig in (p. 48)
   * Early morning of January 22, after 2nd attack, ordered 2nd battalion, 141st Infantry to move forward from their position across the river (p. 52)
   * late afternoon of January 22, sent by Walker to help the 142nd organize for a third attack, scheduled for 2:30 AM, Jan 23 (attack later canceled) (p. 84)
   * January 24, conversed with Lt. Gen. Jacob L. Devers, who was investigating the battle's failure (p. 87) "The whole trouble is that you people in the rear do not know what goes on up here" (p. 88)
   * January 26, wrote report on 141st operations during the battle, said rifles not loaded (p. 87)
   * January 29, Gen. Clark (5th Army commander), decides Wilbur and others should be replaced, believed division morale was low and Wilbur was a "bad influence" (p. 94)
   * By January 31, Wilbur sent to hospital by Walker, Walker felt Clark was using him and others as scapegoats for the failure (p. 95)

Smith, Lee Carraway. A River Swift and Deadly: the 36th "Texas" Infantry Division at the Rapido River. Austin, Tex. : Eakin Press, 1989 ISBN 9781571682222

Biography from Biographical Dictionary of World War II Generals and Flag Officers (1996), by R. Manning Ancell with Christine M. Miller, copyright (c) 1996, Greenwood Publishing Group, Westport, CT, 203-226-3571, www.greenwood.com. Wilbur, William Hale

Wilbur, William Hale (1888-1979) Born on September 24, 1888, in Palmer, Massachusetts. Attended Haverford College 1907-1908. Commissioned in the infantry from West Point in 1912. Attended Ecole Special Militaire 1919-1920 and Ecole Superieure de Guerre 1922-1924. Graduated from the Command and General Staff School in 1932 and the Army War College in 1935. Chief of staff of VI Corps Area 1940-1941, then I Armored Corps, North African Theater of Operations 1941-1942 where he earned the Medal of Honor. Brigadier general in December 1942. Assistant division commander of 36th Division 1943-1944. Chief of staff of Western Defense Command 1945-1946. Retired in March 1947. Decorations included the Medal of Honor, Silver Star, two Legions of Merit and the Bronze Star. Died on December 27, 1979.

William H(ale) Wilbur

1888-1979

Nationality: American Source: Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2002. Entry Updated : 07/03/2001

BIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY

"Sidelights" Wilbur speaks French and German, some Russian and Spanish.

PERSONAL INFORMATION Family: Born September 24, 1888, in Palmer, MA; died December 27, 1979, in Fort Myers, FL; son of John (a physician) and Edith (Smart) Wilbur; married Laura Girard Schieffelin, September 8, 1923; children: Mary S. (Mrs. L. H. Cummings), William H., Jr. (deceased). Education: Haverford College, student, 1907-08; U.S. Military Academy, B.S., 1912; graduate of Ecole Speciale Militaire, Saint Cyr, France, 1921, Ecole Superieure de Guerre, Paris, France, 1924, Command and General Staff College, 1932, Army War College, 1935. Politics: Republican. Religion: Presbyterian. Memberships: Military Order of the World Wars, Order of Lafayette, Rotary (honorary), Kiwanis (honorary), Army and Navy Club (Washington, D.C.).

AWARDS Military: Medal of Honor, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit (two), Combat Infantryman's Badge; Knight Commander, Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Italy); Ouissam Alaouite (Morocco).

CAREER U.S. Army, commissioned second lieutenant in 1912, served on active duty until retired as brigadier general in 1947; Cook County Jail, Chicago, IL, warden, 1950. Also in import-export business as Far East representative, 1947-49. Major Army assignments included chief of staff, Sixth Corps Area, 1940-41, commanding officer of 60th Infantry, Fort Bragg, N.C., 1941-42, other command assignments in North Africa and Salerno campaigns. Lecturer on education subjects and world affairs throughout United States. Member, Chicago Crime Commission, beginning, 1954; director, Defenders of American Liberties, beginning, 1962.

WORKS WRITINGS BY THE AUTHOR:

The Kochler Method of Physical Drill, J. B. Lippincott, 1918

Guideposts to the Future, Regnery, 1954.

Russian Communism: A Challenge and a Fraud, Caxton, 1964.

Freedom Must Not Perish, privately printed, 1964.

The Making of George Washington, Patriotic Education, 1970, 2nd edition, 1973.

George Washington, Architect of the Constitution as Perceived by William H. Wilbur, (based upon Wilbur's writings), by Henry B. Watson, Patriotic Eduction, 1981.

SOURCE CITATION

Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2007. http://galenet.galegroup.com.ezproxy2.library.arizona.edu/servlet/BioRC

Document Number: H1000106083


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_H._Wilbur

William Hale Wilbur (September 24, 1888–December 27, 1979) was a United States Army officer and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II.

Early life and Military service

Wilbur was born September 24, 1888 in Palmer, Massachusetts. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1912 and joined the Army from his birth city of Palmer, Massachusetts. He also attended the French military academy École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr as a classmate of Charles de Gaulle and saw combat in World War I. He commanded the 60th Infantry Regiment from 1941 to 1942.

On November 8, 1942 Wilbur, now a colonel, participated in Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of French North Africa. He served on the staff of Major General George S. Patton as part of the Western Task Force, charged with capturing the city of Casablanca, Morocco, from the Vichy French forces. Several American officers, including Wilbur, were chosen to carry messages to French commanders who were believed to be sympathetic towards the Allies. Wilbur was to contact Admiral François Michelier, commander of the French naval forces in Casablanca, and deliver to him a letter from General Patton. The Allies hoped to gain assistance from these French commanders, or at least convince them to lay down their arms and not oppose the invasion.

After landing with the first assault wave in Fedala, Wilbur approached the French lines under a white flag of truce and was escorted to their division headquarters. Finding that his intermediate contact there had been arrested for treason, he attempted to give the letter to the presiding general. The general refused to accept it, so Wilbur placed the letter on the man's desk and left. Before reaching his vehicle, he was stopped by another officer who offered to take him to Admiral Michelier. Upon arriving at the admiral's headquarters, he was turned away; Michelier refused to meet with him. Wilbur headed back to the American lines in Fedala.

After arriving back at the Allied-held beachhead, Wilbur led an attack against a French artillery battery. One of the few French guns still firing in the area, the battery was targeting Allied ships off shore. Wilbur gathered four tanks and a company of infantry to assault the position. He personally accompanied the group, riding along on the lead tank, and commanded them in the successful capture of the battery.

Wilbur was approved for the Medal of Honor two months later, on January 13, 1943. The medal was presented to him by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during a ceremony in Casablanca on January 22, 1943, in the midst of the Casablanca Conference. Also in attendance were General George Marshall, the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, and Major General Patton.

Wilbur continued to serve for the remainder of the war, rising to the rank of brigadier general. As deputy commander of the 36th Infantry Division during the Italian Campaign, he participated in the Allied landings in Salerno and the subsequent fighting through the winter of 1943-1944. He was then stationed in east Asia before retiring from the Army in 1947.

Later life

A strident anti-communist, Wilbur became involved in the political discourse regarding the Korean War. South Korean president Syngman Rhee had offered him an official advisory post before the war, but he declined the position. In 1950, his son, Army Lieutenant William H. Wilbur, Jr., was killed in Korea and posthumously awarded the Army's second-highest honor, the Distinguished Service Cross. Wilbur was a vocal supporter of then-Presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower's plan to withdraw American troops from Korea, giving several speeches on the topic in 1952.

He was also involved in law enforcement, serving on the Chicago Crime Commission and briefly as warden of the Cook County Jail. He authored several non-fiction books, including The Making of George Washington (1973, ISBN 978-0-912530-02-4) and Freedom Must Not Perish (1964).

He died at age 91 and was buried in West Point Cemetery on the grounds of his alma mater, the U.S. Military Academy.

Medal of Honor citation

His official Medal of Honor citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty. Col. Wilbur prepared the plan for making contact with French commanders in Casablanca and obtaining an armistice to prevent unnecessary bloodshed. On 8 November 1942, he landed at Fedala with the leading assault waves where opposition had developed into a firm and continuous defensive line across his route of advance. Commandeering a vehicle, he was driven toward the hostile defenses under incessant fire, finally locating a French officer who accorded him passage through the forward positions. He then proceeded in total darkness through 16 miles of enemy-occupied country intermittently subjected to heavy bursts of fire, and accomplished his mission by delivering his letters to appropriate French officials in Casablanca. Returning toward his command, Col. Wilbur detected a hostile battery firing effectively on our troops. He took charge of a platoon of American tanks and personally led them in an attack and capture of the battery. From the moment of landing until the cessation of hostile resistance, Col. Wilbur's conduct was voluntary and exemplary in its coolness and daring.

Contributions

One of his greatest contributions was researching and writing about the childhood and upbringing of George Washington. The book is called, "The Making of George Washington," and he wrote it "because the world needs Washington again." (Sue Maxwell, personal friend)

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Brig. General William H. Wilbur's Timeline

1888
September 24, 1888
Palmer, Massachusetts, United States
1926
July 25, 1926
Age 37
1979
December 27, 1979
Age 91
Fort Myers, Florida, United States