Gen. Jacob L. Devers, 92, who played a major role in the Allied victory in Europe during World War II as a trainer of troops, a planner of operations and a leader in combat, died yesterday at Walter Reed Army Hospital.
Gen. Devers, who maintained a home here, had been under treatment for a heart condition.
Before leading the 6th Army group in hard fighting in 1944 and 1945, Gen. Devers was a key figure in guiding the Army through the urgent expansion demanded by the sudden onset of the war.
As chief of U.S. Armored Forces from August, 1941 to the spring of 1943, Gen. Devers activated, trained and equipped 12 armor divisions and many tank battalions.
These labors bore fruit and won recognition when Gen. George S. Patton led his armoured columns across western Europe.
"Thanks to Jake Devers, we are ready," Patton said.
In May 1943, Gen. Devers became commander of U.S. forces in the European theater of operations. He reorganized and trained thousands of troops in the United Kingdom, and he was credited with much of the early planning and training for the celebrated Normandy landings in June 1944.
In 1944 Gen. Devers took command of the North Africa theater, and later was assigned as deputy supreme allied commander in the Mediterranean.
In addition to winning credit for Allied advances in the Italian campaign, Gen. Devers helped organize the Allied invasion of sourthern France in 1944.
As the year closed, he led the southern invasion force -- the 6th Army group -- into the Vosges region and Alsage.
In January 1945, at a vitual juncture in the Ardennes Campaign, he held Strasbourg against a determined German thrust, stopping one of the enemy's last offensives in the west. Subsequently his troops pinched out the Colmer pocket, solidly establishing the Allied southern flank.
At war's end the much-decorated York, Pa., native took command of U.S. Army Ground Forces.
Known as a leading advocate of aggressive, offensive warfare, Gen. devers was educated at West Point, where he was on the intercollegiate baseball, basketball and lacrosse teams, and played on his class football squad.
Assigned early in his career to West Point as a mathematics teacher, he developed into a skilled polo player and also coached basketball and baseball.
Subsequent assignments included tours at Fort Sill as director of gunnery, and at West Point as an instructor of artillery tactics in the 1920s, and as graduate manager of athletics and second in command of the academy in the 1930s.
Known for his antipathy for red tape and an affinity for the unorthodox, Gen. Devers was jumped by President Roosevelt over 474 other colonels for promotion to brigadier general as war threatened.
His energy spawned legends. As a commander of the 9th Division at Fort Bragg in late 1940, he trained troops and oversaw a vast construction program.
Told steel for a million gallon watertank would be unavailable for eight months he ordered the tank built of concrete. Informed it couldn't be done, he ordered "Build it anyhow." Fort Bragg soon had the world's largest concrete water tank.
Gen. Devers was married in 1911 to Georgie Lyon. They had a daughter, Frances.