William H. Wilbur
Colonel, Western Task Force, North Africa, U.S. Army. Awarded for actions at Fedala, North Africa.
November 08, 1942
Born in Palmer, MA, September 24, 1888, Wilbur graduated from West Point and joined the Army from Palmer. He was a classmate of Charles de Gaulle at the French military academy École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr and fought in World War I.
Wilbur received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the invasion of North Africa and served for the remainder of the war, achieving the rank of brigadier general. He became deputy commander of the 36th Infantry Division during the Italian Campaign, took part in the Allied landings in Salerno and the subsequent fighting in 1943-1944. He retired from the Army in 1947.
After the war, he continued to be involved in international affairs, declining an advisory post, and in law enforcement, serving on the Chicago Crime Commission. He also wrote several books.
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.