Jacob L. Devers
Jacob Loucks Devers (1887-1979) graduated from the U .S. Military Academy in 1909. As a second lieutenant of field artillery, Devers was assigned in Hawaii, France, and Germany in the early 1900s. In 1939 Devers was named Chief of Staff of the Panama Canal Department.
As the youngest major general in the Army's land forces, he was posted to Fort Knox, Kentucky in 1941 where he elevated its 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. In London, he organized and trained soldiers for a what was to be the invasion of Normandy.
He was next appointed the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater of Operations where he argued successfully for support of the southern France landings.
In July 1944, Devers assumed command of the Sixth Army Group of twelve American and eleven French divisions. Eisenhower had envisioned Dever's role as minor in the European conflict, but history ruled contrary. The Sixth Army Group cleared Alsace, reduced the Colmar Pocket, crossed the Rhine River and accepted the surrender of German forces of Army Group G in western Austria on May 6, 1945.
Some historians point to the fact that while the northern Allied armies were bogged down in failures in the autumn of 1944 (Metz, Market Garden, the Hurtgen Forest), Devers' Sixth Army Group was the only Allied force to gain ground. When the Sixth Army Group reached the Rhine River in November 1944 at Strasbourg, Devers argued for a push of his Seventh Army across the Rhine with General Patton's Third Army (on the Sixth Army Group's northern flank) to drive up the western side of the Rhine in an effort to trap the German army in the Saar. Eisenhower refused his plan which may have led to a much earlier conclusion to the war. As it played out, the Sixth Army Group was ordered not to pursue the enemy into Germany, had to argue for not withdrawing from the city of Strasbourg and reassignment of some of its units to Patton's army and the Ardennes as suggested by Eisenhower and was later relegated to a supporting role protecting Patton's southern flank when the Rhine River was finally crossed in force in March of 1945.
Following World War II, Devers was named Commander of Army Ground Forces. Devers retired in 1949.
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