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Symposium and lecture to feature noted General Jacob L. Devers scholars

Photo from Devers Collection, York County Heritage Trust Library/Archives. Jackie Martin, photographer
Photo from Devers Collection, York County Heritage Trust Library/Archives.
Jackie Martin, photographer

Which four-star World War II general was an important advocate of tanks, helicopters and DUKW (“duck boats”) for the U.S. Army? No, not one of those other guys who are household names today with the help of popular biographies, films and television productions. Jacob Loucks Devers, born and raised in York, hasn’t had the spotlight thrown on him that his contemporaries have, but that is changing.

In 1998 the Historical Society of York County (now part of York County Heritage Trust) published a condensed biography Jake: The General from West York Avenue by local author Michael A. Markey to try to fill some of the void. Perhaps this was one way that scholars started to find out that General Devers had deposited his quite large collection of papers and photographs with HSYC, creating a treasure to be mined for a wider understanding of important operations in Europe during World War II, as well as military equipment development.

The Devers stars are finally rising, in part through research done in the Devers collection at YCHT. For example, “Jake” was featured in Guns at Last Light, the third volume of Pulitzer Prize winning author Rick Atkinson’s World War II trilogy, published less than two years ago.

This past February General Jacob Devers: World War II’s Forgotten Four Star by John A. Adams was released to very good reviews. The Amazon.com description for that book concludes with: “…Eisenhower had three subordinate army group commanders―British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, Omar S. Bradley, and Jacob Devers. The first two are well-known―here the third receives the attention he properly deserves.”

And now James Scott Wheeler’s Jacob L. Devers: A General’s Life has hit the book stores (including at YCHT) and internet booksellers. The public will have a chance to meet Dr. Wheeler on Friday, November 6 at 7 p.m. at York County Heritage Trust, 250 East Market Street, York. He will discuss the new book and a book signing will follow. There is no charge for the Friday evening program, part of a two day symposium, A Quiet Streak of Lightning, on General Devers, but registration is requested, by calling 717-848-1587, x301 or registering online.

The symposium continues with a Saturday, November 7 panel from 9 a.m. to 12 noon on General Devers’s life and military accomplishments and conflicts. It will be moderated by military historian Harold W. Nelson and feature Dr. Wheeler as well as scholars and historians Conrad C. Crane, Rich Robinson and David P. Colley. There is a small fee ($10 for YCHT members, $15 for non-members) for the Saturday session, also held at YCHT, 250 East Market Street. Registration, which closes October 30, may be accomplished online or by calling the number above or sending a check to YCHT.