Jacob Loucks Devers
General, United States Army
General Jacob L. Devers (September 8, 1887-October
15, 1979), who is best remembered for his command of the 6th Army Group
in Europe during World War II, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy
in 1909. Much of his energy between the world wars was spent in the improvement,
both tactical and technical of his branch, Field Artillery.
At the outbreak of World War II, Devers was serving in Panama. Devers commanded the 9th Infantry Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina from November 15, 1940 to July 15, 1941. On August 14, 1941 Devers, the youngest major general in the Army's land forces, was posted to Fort Knox, Kentucky to head the Armored Force. During his command, Fort Knox grew from two armored divisions to 16 divisions and 63 separate tank battalions. In May 1943, Devers became the overall commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe, where from his London headquarters he organized and trained many divisions for the cross-channel attack.
Finally in July 1944 Devers received the combat command he had so long coveted; the 6th Army Group. With his twelve American and eleven French divisions, Devers cleared Alsace, reduced the Colmar pocket, crossed the Rhine River and accepted the surrender of German forces in western Austria on 6 May 1945.
Devers was a highly competent and consummate
professional in an exemplary career that spanned more than thirty-five
Continuing the ground work of General Chaffee, General Devers brought with him a fresh concept of organization and operations, and his assignment was not based simply on his availability at the time. He had been selected personally by General George C. Marshall, Army Chief of Staff, who wanted to place an expert in firepower in control of the emerging, highly mechanized, and mobile tank force.
General Devers' boundless energy coupled with a keen mind and outstanding organizational ability proved equal to the task of developing and expanding the Armored Force far beyond he concepts of the initial planners. During his command, Fort Knox and Armor grew from a struggling force of two armored divisions, fashioned from extant Organizations throughout the Army, to a formidable force of 16 divisions and 63 separate tank battalions.
One of General Devers' organizational innovations at Fort Knox was the addition of light aircraft to armored field artillery battalions to increase the mobility of firepower of the armored division artillery. In later years, as Commander, Army Ground Forces, he continued his pioneering in force development when he directed the development and organization of helicopter-borne units in the post-World War II Army.
When expansion of the force made it impractical to continue control from Fort Knox, General Devers was reassigned and command and control passed to the respective army and corps in which the units were located.
General Devers had done his task well, his guidance and leadership had met the challenge. His next assignment was to prepare the United States Forces for the invasion of the European continent and he departed for England to establish the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe.
General Devers' earlier service following his graduation from the U .S. Military Academy in 1909 and commissioning as a Second Lieutenant of field artillery, included assignments in Hawaii, France, and Germany during the early 1900s. He subsequently was graduated from the Command and General Staff College and the Army War College and continued his service with artillery units in the United States until 1939, when he became Chief of Staff of the Panama Canal Department. Following that assignment and his service at Fort Knox, General Devers served successively as Commander of U.S. Forces in the European Theater of Operations and North African Theater of Operations. He was later Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Allied Force Headquarters, and Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater of Operations. He also commanded the 6th and 12th Army Groups, and following World War II, he was named Commander of the Army Ground Forces.
General Devers retired in September 1949 and made his home in the Washington, D.C., area until his death on 15 October 1979. Interment was in Arlington National Cemetery on 19 October 1979.
Photo Courtesy of Russell C. Jacobs, July 2007
DEVERS, GEORGIA LYON W/O JACOB LOUCKS
DATE OF BIRTH: 04/29/1891
DATE OF DEATH: 02/05/1967
BURIED AT: SECTION 1 SITE 149-F
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Posted: 6 May 2006 Updated: 7 July 2007 Updated: 17 October 2007
Photo By M. R. Patterson, October 2007
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 28 June 2003