Francis Bowditch Wilby

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Francis Bowditch Wilby
Francis B. Wilby.jpg
Francis B. Wilby as a Major general.
Born (1883-04-24)April 24, 1883
Detroit, Michigan
Died November 20, 1965(1965-11-20) (aged 82)
Asheville, North Carolina
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Department of the Army Seal.svg United States Army
Years of service 1905-1946
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Commands held Superintendent of the USMA
Battles/wars US occupation of Cuba
World War I
World War II
Awards Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Legion of Merit

Francis Bowditch Wilby (April 24, 1883 – November 20, 1965)[1] was a Major General in the United States Army who served as the 39th Superintendent of the United States Military Academy from 1942 to 1945, during World War II.

Early years and WW I[edit]

Francis Bowditch Wilby was born on April 24, 1883 in Detroit, Michigan.[2] He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York and was a graduate of Class of 1905.[3] He was commissioned as a Second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers on June 13, 1905.

Wilby was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant on June 7, 1907 and in September of the same year, he was ordered to the Washington, D.C., where he attended the Engineer School at Washington Barracks (now Fort Lesley J. McNair).

Wilby also served with the United States forces during the United States occupation of Cuba between years 1906–1909.

With the Americas entry in the World War I, Wilby was transferred to the France with the American Expeditionary Force. His first assignment with AEF was as the Instructor of 1st Corps Engineer School in Gondrecourt-le-Château. He also attended the French engineer school at Chalons-sur-Marne.

On March 20, 1918 Wilby was transferred to the Chaumont-Porcien on Headquarters of the American Expeditionary Force, where he was appointed as a Chief of Engineer Intelligence Division in the Office of Chief of Engineers.

On September 26, 1918, Wilby was transferred to the 1st Infantry Division under command of Major general Robert Lee Bullard, where he was appointed as a Commander of 1st Engineers. Wilby stayed in this capacity until March 14, 1919, where he was ordered back to the United States.

For his distinguished service during World War I, Wilby was awarded with Army Distinguished Service Medal by the Government of the United States and with Croix de Guerre with Palm by the Government of the France.[4]

Distinguished Service Medal Citation[edit]

The official U.S. Army citation for Wilby's Distinguished Service Medal reads:

General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 14 (1923)
Action Date: World War I
Name: Francis Bowditch Wilby
Service: Army
Rank: Colonel
Company: Chief Engineer
Division: American Expeditionary Force
Citation: The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Army Distinguished Service Medal to Colonel (Corps of Engineers) Francis Bowditch Wilby (ASN: 0-2023), United States Army, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility during World War I. As Assistant in charge of Military Engineering in the Office of the Chief Engineer, American Expeditionary Forces, and later as Division Engineer of the 1st Division, Colonel Wilby displayed unusual ability and professional attainments of a high order. As Editor of the Engineer Field Notes, and as the author of a large number of them, his clear conception of the functions and duties of Engineer troops was most firmly impressed upon the Combat Engineers and contributed in a signal manner to their marked efficiency. By his rare technical skill and knowledge, keen adaptability to all conditions, he contributed materially to the success of the 1st Division in a position of great responsibility and in times and circumstances of the gravest importance.[5]

World War II[edit]

Wilby was transferred to the Governors Island, New York, where he was appointed as a Chief of Staff of the First United States Army under the command of Lieutenant general Hugh A. Drum on October 26, 1939. He was also promoted to the rank of Brigadier general on October 1, 1940.[6]

In July 1941, Wilby was transferred to the 1st Corps Area and became a Commanding general of this unit. Wilby was promoted to the rank of Major General on September 29, 1941.[7]

On January 13, 1942, Major general Wilby was selected to be appointed a Superintendent of the United States Military Academy and he stayed in this capacity for the whole World War II until September 4, 1945.

His last military assignment was at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia, where he served as a commander of the Engineer school until January 31, 1946, when he finally retired from the Army.[8]

Retirement[edit]

After his retirement from the Army, Wilby was appointed as a Chairman of the New York Power Authority and served in this capacity until 1950. Then he worked as an consultant engineer of the Knappen Tibbetts Abbeit Company until his final retirement in 1952.[9]

Major general Francis Bowditch Wilby died on November 20, 1965 at the age of 82 in Asheville, North Carolina and is buried at United States Military Academy Post Cemetery in West Point, New York together with his wife Dorothy Langfitt (1887-1948).

Decorations[edit]

Here is the ribbon bar of Major General Wilby:

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
1st Row Army Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster Legion of Merit
2nd Row Army of Cuban Pacification Medal World War I Victory Medal with five Battle Clasps Army of Occupation of Germany Medal American Defense Service Medal with Base Clasp
3rd Row American Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal French Croix de Guerre 1914-1918 with Palm Ecuador Order of Abdon Calderón 1st Class

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Francis B. Wilby (1883 - 1965) - Find a Grave Memorial". findagrave.com. 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  2. ^ "Valor awards for Francis B. Wilby". militarytimes.com. 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  3. ^ "United States Military Academy, Class of 1905". digital-library.usma.edu. 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  4. ^ "Valor awards for Francis B. Wilby". militarytimes.com. 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  5. ^ "Valor awards for Francis B. Wilby". militarytimes.com. 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  6. ^ "Biography of Major general Francis Bowditch Wilby (1883 - 1965)". generals.dk. 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  7. ^ "Officers of the US Army 1939-1945". unithistories.com. 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  8. ^ "Officers of the US Army 1939-1945". unithistories.com. 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  9. ^ "Officers of the US Army 1939-1945". unithistories.com. 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Robert L. Eichelberger
Superintendents of the United States Military Academy
1942-1945
Succeeded by
Maxwell D. Taylor