Mark W. Clark

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
Mark W. Clark
Mark Wayne Clark 1943.jpg
Major General Mark Wayne Clark in 1943.
Birth name Mark Wayne Clark
Nickname(s) Contraband (while at West Point)[1]
Born (1896-05-01)May 1, 1896
Madison Barracks, Sackets Harbor, New York, U.S.
Died April 17, 1984(1984-04-17) (aged 87)
Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
Buried at The Citadel
Charleston, South Carolina
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch Seal of the United States Department of War.png United States Army
Years of service 1917-1953
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands held II Corps
25px U.S. Fifth Army
US 15th Army Group.png 15th Army Group
United Nations Command (Korea)
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Korean War
Awards Distinguished Service Cross
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Spouse(s) Maurine Doran (m. 1924-1966; her death; 2 children)
Other work The Citadel, President

Mark Wayne Clark (May 1, 1896–April 17, 1984) was a senior officer of the United States Army who saw service during World War I and World War II and the Korean War. He was the youngest lieutenant general (three-star general) in the United States Army during World War II.

During World War I, he was a company commander in the 11th Infantry Regiment, part of the 5th Division, and served in France where he was seriously wounded by shrapnel. After the war, the future U.S. Army Chief of Staff, George C. Marshall, noticed Clark’s abilities.[2] During World War II, he commanded the U.S. Fifth Army, and later the Fifteenth Army Group, in the Italian campaign. He is known for leading the Fifth Army in its capture of Rome in June 1944.

Clark has been heavily criticized for ignoring the orders of his superior officer, British General Sir Harold Alexander, and allowing the German 10th Army to slip away, in his drive to take Rome, the capital of Italy, but a strategically unimportant city. The German 10th Army then joined with their brother forces at the Trasimene Line.[3] In 1945 Clark became the youngest American to be promoted to general.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, a close friend of Clark, considered him a brilliant staff officer and trainer.[4] Clark was awarded many medals, including the Distinguished Service Cross, the U.S. Army's second highest award.

One legacy of the "Clark task force" that he led in 1953-55, which reviewed and made recommendations on all federal intelligence activities, is the coined term Intelligence Community.[5]

Early life and career

Clark was born in Madison Barracks, Sackets Harbor, New York, but spent much of his youth in Highland Park, Illinois, while his father, a career infantry officer, was stationed at Fort Sheridan.[6] His mother was the daughter of Romanian Jews, but Clark was baptized Episcopalian while a cadet at West Point.[1]

Clark gained an early appointment to the military academy at age 17, but lost time from frequent illnesses. Known as "Contraband" by his classmates, because of his ability to smuggle sweets into the barracks,[1] Clark graduated from West Point in April 1917, with a class ranking of 110th in a class of 139, and was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant of Infantry. In the rapid expansion of the United States Army during World War I, he rose rapidly in rank, promoted to 1st lieutenant on May 15 and captain on August 5, 1917.[7] He served in France in the U.S. 11th Infantry, part of the 5th Infantry Division, and was wounded in action in the Vosges Mountains. As a result of his convalescence, Captain Clark was transferred to the General Staff Headquarters of the First United States Army until the end of hostilities. He then served with the Third Army in its occupation duties in Germany.

Between the wars, Clark served in a variety of staff and training roles. From 1921 to 1924, he served as an aide in the office of the Assistant Secretary of War. In 1925, he completed the professional officer's course at the Infantry School, and then served as a staff officer with the 30th Infantry at The Presidio in San Francisco, California. His next assignment was as a training instructor to the Indiana National Guard,[7] in which he was promoted to major on January 14, 1933, more than 15 years after his promotion to captain.

Major Clark served as a deputy commander of the Civilian Conservation Corps district in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1935-36, between tours at the Command and General Staff School in 1935 and the Army War College in 1937. Assigned to Fort Lewis, Washington, Clark was selected to instruct at the Army War College in March 1940, where he received a promotion to lieutenant colonel on July 1. Clark and General Lesley McNair selected the thousands of acres of unused land in Louisiana for military maneuvers at Louisiana Maneuvers.[8]

On August 4, 1941, Clark was promoted two grades to brigadier general as the United States Army geared up for entry in World War II, and made Assistant Chief of Staff (G-3) at General Headquarters, United States Army, in Washington, D.C.[7]

World War II

In January 1942, a month after the American entry into World War II, Clark was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff Army Ground Forces, and in May 1942, became its chief of staff as staff officers were rapidly moved to newly created commands by General Gage Michael Miller.[7]

In June 1942, he went to England as commanding general of II Corps, and the next month moved up to Commanding General, Army Forces European Theater of Operations. He was promoted to major general on August 17, 1942. In October 1942, Clark was assigned to the North African Theater as deputy commander-in-chief under Dwight D. Eisenhower. Clark's duty was to prepare for Operation Torch, the imminent Allied invasion of French North Africa. Clark also made a covert visit to French North Africa (Operation Flagpole) to meet with pro-Allied officers of the Vichy French forces.

Clark on board USS Ancon during the landings at Salerno, Italy, 12 September 1943.

Eisenhower greatly appreciated Clark's contributions. Clark was promoted to lieutenant general on November 11, 1942, three days after the Torch landings.

On 5 January 1943, the United States created its first field army overseas, the U.S. Fifth Army, with Clark as commander. The Fifth Army was tasked with preparing for the eventual invasion of mainland Italy.

On 8 September 1943, the Fifth Army (which included the British 10th Corps, commanded by Lieutenant-General Richard L. McCreery) under Clark's command landed at Salerno (Operation Avalanche). The invasion was nearly defeated by German counterattack, and Clark was subsequently criticized by British historians and critics for this near-failure, blamed on poor planning by Clark and his staff.[9]

During the Battle of Monte Cassino, Clark ordered the bombing of the Abbey of Monte Cassino on 15 February 1944. This was under direct orders from his superior, British Army General Sir Harold Alexander, Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies in Italy.[10] Clark and his chief of staff Major General Alfred Gruenther remained unconvinced of the military necessity of the bombing. When handing over the U.S. II Corps position to the New Zealand Corps, Brigadier-General Frederic Butler, deputy commander of U.S. 34th Infantry Division, said "I don't know, but I don't believe the enemy is in the convent. All the fire has been from the slopes of the hill below the wall."[11] The commander of the 4th Indian Infantry Division, Major-General Francis Tuker, urged the bombing of the entire massif with the heaviest bombs available.[12] Clark finally pinned down Alexander, recounting that "I said, 'You give me a direct order and we'll do it,' and he did."[13]

Clark's conduct of operations in the Italian Campaign is controversial, particularly his actions during the Battle of the Winter Line. American military historian Carlo D'Este called Clark's choice to take Rome, after Operation Diadem and the Breakout from the Anzio beachhead, rather than focusing on the destruction of the German Tenth Army, "as militarily stupid as it was insubordinate".[14] Although Clark described a "race to Rome" and released an edited version of his diary for the official historians, his complete papers became available only after his death.[15]

Early on the morning of January 28, 1944, a PT boat carrying Clark to the Anzio beachhead was mistakenly fired on by U.S. naval vessels. Several sailors were killed and wounded around him.[16] A few months later, on June 10, he again narrowly escaped death when, while flying over Civitavecchia, his pilot failed to see the cable of a barrage balloon. The cable entwined the wing, forcing the Piper Cub into a rapid downward spiral. The plane broke free of the cable after the third time around, leaving a large section of the wing behind. The fuel tank ruptured, spraying the fuselage with gasoline. Miraculously, the pilot managed to land safely in a cornfield. "I never had a worse experience," wrote Clark to his wife.[17]

In December 1944 Clark succeeded Alexander as overall commander of Allied ground troops in Italy, renamed as 15th Army Group - Alexander, now a Field Marshal, had become Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces Headquarters in the Mediterranean.[18]

Clark was promoted to general on March 10, 1945. After the final offensive in Italy, he accepted the German surrender in Italy in May and became Commander of Allied Forces in Italy as the war in Europe ended.

Between World War II and the Korean War

Later in 1945, as Commander in Chief of US Forces of Occupation in Austria, Clark gained experience negotiating with Communists, which he would put to good use a few years later.

Clark served as deputy to the U.S. Secretary of State in 1947, and attended the negotiations for an Austrian treaty with the Council of Foreign Ministers in London and Moscow. In June 1947, Clark returned home and assumed command of the Sixth Army, headquartered at the Presidio in San Francisco, and two years later was named chief of Army Field Forces.[7]

On October 20, 1951, he was nominated by President Harry Truman to be the United States emissary to the Holy See. Clark later withdrew his nomination on January 13, 1952, following protests from Texas Senator Tom Connally and Protestant groups.

Congressional inquiry

It was announced on 20 January 1946, that the US 36th Division Veteran's Association had unanimously called for a Congressional inquiry into Clark's actions during the 36th Infantry Division's disastrous crossing of the Gari River (erroneously identified as the Rapido) on the night of 20 January 1944. The petition read:

"Be it resolved, that the men of the 36th Division Association petition the Congress of the United States to investigate the river Rapido fiasco and take the necessary steps to correct a military system that will permit an inefficient and inexperienced officer, such a General Mark W. Clark, in a high command to destroy the young manhood of this country and to prevent future soldiers being sacrificed wastefully and uselessly."[19]

Two resolutions were heard in the House of Representatives, one of which claimed the incident was "one of the most colossal blunders of the Second World War...a murderous blunder" that "every man connected with this undertaking knew...was doomed to failure."[20]

Clark was absolved of blame by the House of Representatives, but never commented on the Rapido River episode following World War II.[20]

During and after the Korean War

Clark signing the Korean Armistice Agreement on July 27, 1953

During the Korean War, he took over as commander of the United Nations Command on May 12, 1952, succeeding General Matthew Ridgway.[citation needed]

From 1954 until 1965, after retiring from the Army, General Clark served as president of The Citadel, the military college located in Charleston, South Carolina.[21]

From 1954 to 1955 Clark was head of the so-called "Clark Task Force" to study and make recommendations on all intelligence activities of the Federal government.[22] The task force had been created 1953 by the second Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government, a.k.a. the Hoover Commission because it was chaired by Herbert Hoover.[citation needed]

Members of the Clark Task Force were Adm. Richard L. Conolly, USN (Ret), a former Deputy Chief of Naval Operations; Ernest F. Hollings, the speaker pro tempore of South Carolina’s House of Representatives; California businessman Henry Kearns; Edward V. Rickenbacker, World War I flying ace and president of Eastern Air Lines;and Donald S. Russell, a former Assistant Secretary of State. The staff director was Maj. Gen. James G. Christiansen, USA (Ret). The task force first met early November 1954 and in May 1955 submitted one Top Secret report for the President, and another unclassified for the Hoover Commission and Congress.[22] The Clark task force coined the term Intelligence Community to describe “...the machinery for accomplishing our intelligence objectives.”[23]

Clark wrote two memoirs: Calculated Risk (1950) and From the Danube to the Yalu (1954).[citation needed]

In 1962 Clark was elected an honorary member of the South Carolina Society of the Cincinnati in recognition of his outstanding service to his country.[citation needed]

Awards and decorations

Clark being awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Castelvetrano, Italy
Distinguished Service Cross
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
World War I Victory Medal
Army of Occupation of Germany Medal
American Defense Service Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Korean Service Medal
Order of the Crown, Grand Officer (Belgium)
Order of the Southern Cross, Grand Officer (Brazil)
60px Order of the White Lion, First Class (Czechoslovak Socialist Republic)
Légion d'honneur, Grand Cross (France)
Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus, Grand Cross (Italy)
Military Order of Savoy, Grand Cross (Italy)
Medaglia d'Argento (Italy)
60px Order Wojenny Virtuti Militari, Krzyż Srebrny/Silver Cross (Poland)
Order of Ouissam Alaouite, Grand Cross - First Class (Morocco)
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (United Kingdom)
Order of Suvorov, First Class (USSR)
United Nations Service Medal

Personal life

Clark married Maurine Doran, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. M. A. Doran of Muncie, Ind., May 17, 1924. Mrs. Clark died October 5, 1966. Their son is Maj. William Doran Clark, U.S.A. (Ret.), and their daughter Patricia Ann (Mrs. Gordon H. Costing).[24]


An interstate spur (I-526) in the suburbs of Charleston, South Carolina, was named Mark Clark Expressway in his honor.
Prior to August 17, 2010, the Mark Clark Bridge in Washington State, connected Camano Island with the mainland. It was then superseded by the Camano Gateway Bridge, the Mark Clark Bridge being demolished the following month.

Fort Drum's Clark Hall is named for him. Fort Drum is located near Clark's Madison Barracks birthplace, and Clark Hall is used for administrative in processing and out processing of soldiers assigned to the 10th Mountain Division.

In film

Clark was portrayed by Michael Rennie in the film The Devil's Brigade.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Atkinson (2002), p.44.
  2. "General Mark Clark",<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Once Upon a Time in Liberated Rome", Robert Katz’s History of Modern Italy<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. From Salerno to Rome: General Mark W. Clark and the Challenges of Coalition Warfare<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Master's thesis abstract
  5. Michael Warner; Kenneth McDonald. "US Intelligence Community Reform Studies Since 1947" (PDF). CIA. p. 4. Retrieved 12 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Clark, General Mark Wayne (1896-1984)". Seattle, Washington. Retrieved 2012-02-10. ..grew up in Highland Park, a Chicago suburb near Fort Sheridan...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 "Biography (Mark W. Clark)" (PDF). The Citadel Archives & Museum. Retrieved 24 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Robertson, Rickey. "Remembering the Louisiana Maneuvers of 1941". SFA Center for Regional Heritage Research. Retrieved 25 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Baxter (1999), p.58-9.
  10. Clark may be seen introducing the John Huston 1945 film, "The Battle of San Pietro" on various sites, including [1]
  11. Majdalany, Fred (1957). The Battle of Cassino. Houghton Mifflin. p. 140.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Holmes (2001) p113
  13. Hapgood & Richardson, p. 173
  14. Holmes, Richard Battlefields of the Second World War "Cassino" 2001 BBC Worldwide p 126
  15. Holmes (2001) p 127.
  16. World War II Today - Jan. 28, 1944 website
  17. Holland, James (2008). Italy’s Sorrow: A Year of War, 1944-1945. Macmillan. pp. 213–4. ISBN 1429945435.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Katz (2003), p.27.
  19. The Tuscaloosa News, January 20, 1946, Texas Troops Ask Inquiry
  20. 20.0 20.1 Rapido River Disaster
  22. 22.0 22.1 Michael Warner; Kenneth McDonald. "US Intelligence Community Reform Studies Since 1947". CIA. p. 15. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  23. The Clark report, "Intelligence service. A Report to the Congress". Volume 2, 76 pages, 13, 17–18.


  • Atkinson, Rick (2002). Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943. Holt Paperbacks. ISBN 0-8050-8724-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Atkinson, Rick (2008). The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944. Holt Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0-8050-8861-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Baxter, Colin F. (1999). Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1887-1976: A Selected Bibliography. Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-29119-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Clark, Mark W. (2007). CALCULATED RISK, The War Memoirs of a Great American General. Enigma Books. ISBN 978-1-929631-59-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Katz, Robert (2003). The Battle for Rome. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-1642-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Hapgood, David; Richardson, David (2002) [1984]. Monte Cassino: The Story of the Most Controversial Battle of World War II (reprint ed.). Cambridge Mass.: Da Capo. ISBN 0-306-81121-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Newly activated organization
Commanding General of the Fifth United States Army
Succeeded by
Lucian Truscott
Preceded by
George Price Hays
Commanding General of the Sixth United States Army
Succeeded by
Albert Coady Wedemeyer
Preceded by
George S. Patton
Commanding General of the Seventh United States Army
1 January 1944 to 2 March 1944
Succeeded by
Alexander Patch