World War II Gen. Jacob Loucks Devers: Credited his ‘strength as coming from York and that is why he placed his papers here’
York, Pa.’s, native son Jacob Loucks Devers meets with Gen. George Patton, with gun holster, and other members of the Allied brain trust in the European Theater of War in World War II. This photograph is one of hundreds that are included in the York, Pa., Heritage Trust’s Archives. Also of interest: York native Jacob L. Devers’ name still in service at Fort Knox, Ky. and Air Force Drum & Bugle Corps: ‘York area has always been known for their musicians’ and York/Adams residents contributed to ‘The War’ .
Four-star Gen. Jacob Loucks Devers is largely unknown to the world, even after leading two armies to through France to the Rhine and then across southern Germany in World War II.
A low place on Gen. Ike Eisenhower’s list of favorite combat-savvy generals no doubt contributed to his relatively obscurity.
But it’s not like there isn’t information out there on the York High School graduate… .
The York County Heritage Trust Archives contain:
-110 feet of material; including 136, 5-inch acid free boxes, 90 photo albums, 14 scrapbooks and over 60 oral histories.
A description of the collection states:
“In one of these interviews he attributes his ‘strength as coming from York and that is why he placed his papers here.’ “
Devers comes to mind at a time that his mother’s family – the Loucks – is celebrating its 300th anniversary in America with a reunion in York. That get-together is taking place today through Saturday at the West Manchester Township Holiday Inn.
Here are excerpts from the Heritage Trust’s description of the Devers collection:
Jacob Devers, York County’s 4-star World War II General was born in 1887 in York on West York Ave, now known as Roosevelt Avenue. He graduated from York High in 1905 and lived up to his school class prophecy “General Jacob Devers”. In 1909, he graduated from West Point 39th in a class of 103, 7 higher then classmate George Patton. Devers became the youngest general at age 53 during the summer of 1941. He helped plan and organize the invasion of southern France following Normandy. He served in the Army for 44 years retiring in 1949.
In 1962, Jake presented his official papers; both military and personal to the Historical Society of York County; over pressure to place them elsewhere. Released in stages, this collection consists of 110 feet of material; including 136 5″ acid free boxes, 90 photo albums, 14 scrapbooks and over 60 oral histories. In one of these interviews he attributes his “strength as coming from York and that is why he placed his papers here”. These papers; consisting of correspondence, military orders and telegrams were de-classified and organized on a very basic level. Original letters from this collection include from Generals George Marshall, George Patton and a general, future president and Gettysburg resident Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower. The beauty of this collection is that it is well-rounded encompassing both his military as well as his personal life.
In 1968, the organization of these papers advanced to the point to begin conversations with a potential author of a biography on General Devers. Colonel Thomas E. Griess, a professor of Military Art and Engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, directed research for the book. According to the HSYC 1970 annual report, this task was estimated to take five years. “The Colonel would write the Devers book and arrange for its publication, in exchange for anticipated royalties on sale of the volume. The Society will finance research activities.”
A 66 page finding guide was created and copies were placed at other repositories, such as the Army War College in Carlisle Researchers from various levels and capacities have accessed this material over the years; from the amateur historian to the professional and fruits of their efforts abound. A prime example of use of this material is the recently written General Jacob L. Devers the War Letters 1943-1945 by recent York College graduate Sarah Zimmerman. She completed this work as her project for the Millard E. Gladfelter Trust Award which provides a grant for research into some aspect of York County history.
Correspondence between retired General Griess, June Lloyd, YCHT Librarian/Archivist as well as John D. Zimmerman, former YCHT board member continued during the 1990’s. General Griess spent several days in York during the spring of 1998 to gather further information and chapter one had been shared with June Lloyd and John Zimmerman. Unfortunately, General Griess passed away in February, 2004 prior to the books completion.
Over consideration of the U. S. Army Military Institute and West Point, Mrs.Griess was advised to place her husband’s research; 32 5″ Hollinger boxes of papers etc. on General Devers in the YCHT Library/Archives. Placement of his research on Devers combined with the current holdings of General Devers Collection will facilitate historians research and increase the chances of a good biography on Devers being completed.
York and York County have continued to honor their native son; continuing to Save General Devers. In 1940, the Devers School opened in York. The Historical Society of York County published Jake the General from West York Avenue by Michael Markey in 1998. The following year PHMC and the Historical Society of York County placed a State Historical Marker in front of his birthplace on Roosevelt Avenue. A mural York’s Defenders of Freedom honoring General Devers and York County World War II veterans was completed in 2001.
– 112 objects catalogued: 65 medals, 5 swords.
– Cane of his grandfather’s Jacob Loucks.
– 4-star helmet.