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Sibert, Franklin Cummings (1891-1980)


Photograph of Franklin C. Sibert

U.S. Army. Via ibiblio.org

Frank Sibert was born in Kentucky in an army family, with both a father and a brother who achieved star rank. He spent the First World War as an aide to his father, who commanded 1 Division, and then took command of a machine gun battalion. After the war, he took the usual courses expected of a rising officer and served in a number of staff and teaching positions.

Though originally slated for division command before war broke out, he was assigned instead as liaison between Stilwell and the Chinese 5 Army in the first Burma campaign, then helped set up the Ramgarh training center. However, he had had difficulty keeping up with Stilwell's walk out of Burma, was in poor health, and was more interested in leading troops than training them, and so he asked to be transferred back to the States.

In spite of Stilwell's negative evaluation, Marshall gave Sibert command of 6 Division in the Southwest Pacific, which he led at the battle of Lone Tree Hill in the Trier Mountains inland of Wakde and at Sansapor. His performance here so impressed Krueger that Sibert was given command of X Corps, which he led in the invasions of Leyte, Luzon, and eastern Mindanao. Sibert's performance during the Luzon campaign disappointed Eichelberger, who was probably also influenced by Stilwell, who told Eichelberger during an inspection tour that Sibert was "just plain stupid" (Taaffe 2011).

Taaffe (2011) evaluates Sibert as the weakest of the American corps commanders in the Pacific, noting that he came across as enthusiastic and friendly, but was lacking in judgment and originality and had a stubborn streak. During his time at the Infantry School, Sibert became so obsessed with bridge that he took a lap board with him on his daily train commutes and walked the aisles to try to recruit players. He was also plagued with poor health throughout the war. His health may explain why he was one of the few senior American commanders whose ability seemed to actually deteriorate over time. Eichelberger called Sibert to his headquarters prior to the invasion of Japan to candidly discuss his shortcomings, which included "leaving the main task and chasing off on a side issue" (quoted by Taaffe 2011). Eichelberger would likely have relieved Sibert if the war had not ended when it did. Sibert seemed to perform best with close supervision, which was Krueger's style but not Eichelberger's.

Service record

1891-1-3    

Born in Bowling Green, Kentucky
1912
Second lieutenant     
Graduates from West Point
1924

Infantry School
1924

Command and General Staff School
1929

Army War College
1934-8-15     

Commander, Headquarters Battalion, 29 Regiment
1935-8-15

Instructor, Infantry School
1937-1-1

Infantry Board
1938-9-1

Executive officer, 2 Regiment
1939-1-15

Commander, Fort Wayne, Michigan
1939-6-7

Commander, Camp Custer, Michigan
1939-11-1

5 Division
1940-7

Commander, 32 Regiment
1941-10

Assistant commander, 44 Division
1942-2

Staff officer, China-Burma-India
1942-10
Major general      
Commander, 6 Division
1944-7-10     

Commander, X Corps
1946

Retires
1980-6-24

Dies


References

Dupuy et al. (1992)

Ammentorp (accessed 2015-3-26)

Pettibone (2006)

Taaffe (2011)



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