Unsung general subject of event


Many people in the York area will recognize the name Jacob Devers — the gentleman has a York City K-8 school named after him in the Fireside area, after all.

But not a whole lot of people know the man was a four-star general whose troops pushed through France to the Rhine River during World War II.

"He's not a household name" the way other World War II generals, such as Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur, continue to be, said Melanie Hady, a spokeswoman for the York County Heritage Trust. "I'd guess even some folks who know World War II very well don't know his name."

The York County Heritage Trust will host a symposium called "A Quiet Streak of Lightning" about Devers around Veterans Day. Army historians Col. James Scott Wheeler, Brig. Gen. Harold W. Nelson, Conrad C. Crane and David P. Colley, as well as local historian Rich Robinson, will speak during the symposium, which will be held Nov. 6 and 7.

Devers' low profile is not for lack of accomplishment. He commanded the Sixth Army Group, which invaded Nazi-occupied southern France two months after the D-Day invasion. According to the news release from the Heritage Trust, some of the speakers contend Devers' army should have been allowed to continue its march into Germany, and that could have ended the war several months earlier.

Devers was born Sept. 8, 1887, and died Oct. 15, 1979. Toward the front end of that time range, he attended York High School.

"Everything we read suggests he was an unassuming sort of guy," Hady said. "He might not have been as flashy as some of the other generals."

Symposium: Hady said the event features a strong panel of knowledgable people.

"History buffs should enjoy this very much," she said. "We're not going to get this caliber of experts together very often."

The event also will kick off an exhibit featuring a "huge collection of Devers artifacts," Hady said, including a four-star helmet and some documents.

Wheeler will give a presentation followed by a book-signing for his latest effort, "Jacob L. Devers: A General's Life," from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6. Then the next day from 9 a.m. to noon, the experts will participate in a panel discussion about Devers' life and military exploits.

Friday's event is free, and Saturday's event costs $10 for York County Heritage Trust members and $15 for the general public. The Historical Trust asks that everyone who's planning to attend register with them beforehand by calling 848-1587, ext. 301, or by going online to

— Reach Sean Cotter at