General Jacob Devers: World War II's Forgotten Four Star

By John A. Adams | Go to book overview

FOUR
Chief of Armored Force

IT WAS ABOUT NOON, AND DEVERS WAS IN HIS OFFICE WHEN the phone rang. It was General Marshall:

Is anybody listening on this phone?

Well, if they were they are off, General Marshall.

I want you to get into your plane this afternoon and fly to Fort Knox,
Kentucky. [General Adna R.] Chaffee is dying, and I don’t want to announce it
right now, but I am going to put you in command of the Armored Force. There is
something wrong down there [at Armored Force]. I want to know about. I want
you to go down to Fort Knox and find out what the trouble is and spend as much
time as you want and then fly to Washington and tell me what the trouble is. In
the meantime, we will get your status cleaned up and decide what we have got
to do.1

“As I sat back in my chair to catch my breath, after hanging up the telephone,” recalled Devers in retirement, “the first thought that occurred to me was General Van Voorhis is going to get a big laugh out of this.”2 Van Voorhis had been Jake’s commanding officer in Panama, and had earlier been instrumental in shepherding mechanized cavalry into reality in the early 1930s. On sultry afternoons back in the canal zone, he and Devers had sometimes talked about mechanized forces. Jake was somewhat ambivalent. Initially, Devers viewed the tank as a method of getting a large-caliber gun into position to fire directly on the enemy. That did not embody the concept of slashing, high-speed warfare. What little he saw of interwar tanks appeared “clumsy” to him.

The American army had tanks in World War I. George Patton, then a temporary colonel, commanded the American tank brigade for a couple of days in combat before he got shot in the seat of his pants. Back in

-52-

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General Jacob Devers: World War II's Forgotten Four Star
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Maps ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Prologue 3
  • One - Early Years 5
  • Two - The Interwar Years 21
  • Three - Marshall Recognizes Devers 35
  • Four - Chief of Armored Force 52
  • Five - The Debate over Doctrine 72
  • Six - Commander, Eto 94
  • Seven - Deputy Supreme Commander, Mto 118
  • Eight - The French and a Southern Front 140
  • Nine - Dragooned 157
  • Ten - Up the Rhône Valley 176
  • Eleven - An End to Champagne 193
  • Twelve - Into the Cold Vosges 216
  • Thirteen - Cross the Rhine? 233
  • Fourteen - Throw Down at Vittel and Its Aftermath 261
  • Fifteen - Nordwind Strikes Devers 290
  • Sixteen - The Colmar Pocket Finally Collapses 315
  • Seventeen - Undertone to Austria 334
  • Eighteen - Postwar 372
  • Epilogue 390
  • Notes 395
  • Bibliography 419
  • Index 425
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