Mark Clark

Mark Clark

Mark Clark, the son of an infantry colonel, was born in the United States on 1st May, 1896. He attended the West Point Military Academy and graduated in 1917 (110/139) and joined the United States Army.

In the First World War he fought on the Western Front in France and was seriously wounded by shrapnel while leading his company of the 11th Regiment 5th Division.

Promoted to the rank of major he held several important staff assignments before graduating from the US Army College in Washington. General George Marshall was impressed by Clark who helped to get him a teaching job at the college.

In April 1941 Clark became a brigadier general and the following year went to Britain with General Dwight D. Eisenhower where he helped him plan Operation Torch. Along with Robert Murphy, Clark negotiated the controversial deal with Jean-Francois Darlan. On 13th October 1942, Clark became the US Army's youngest ever three-star general.

In December 1942 Clark took command of the 5th Army. He also had special responsibility rear area defence and troop training. On 9th September 1943, Clark and his troops made an amphibious assault on Italy. Landing in Salerno, near Naples, he encountered serious resistance but with the help of General Bernard Montgomery and the 8th Army the beachhead was made safe by the 15th September.

Clark had difficulty taking Cassino which was needed to open the way to Rome. Eventually he was forced to make his main effort through Valmontone. He continued to push north through the Apennines but suffered heavy casualties at the hands of General Albrecht Kesselring.

On 18th May, 1944, Allied troops led by General Wladyslaw Anders (Polish Corps) and General Alphonse Juin (French Corps) captured Monte Cassino. This opened a corridor for Allied troops and they reached Anzio on 24th May. The German defence now disintegrated and General Mark Clarkwas able to take his forces direct to Rome which he liberated on 4th June.

Clark replaced General Harold Alexander as head of the 15th Army Group in December 1944, and the following March became America's youngest full general. He took part in the spring offensive that led to the unilateral surrender by Karl Wolff.

After the war Clark was commander of US Forces in Austria until being given command of the 6th Army in San Francisco in January 1947. He expected to replace Omar Bradley as Chief of Staff of the US Army but this post went to Joe L. Collins instead.

In April 1952 Clark replaced Matthew Ridgeway as head of the far east Command and the UN Supreme Commander in Korea. He retired from the United States Army in October 1953.

Mark Clark, who published two books of memoirs, Calculated Risk (1950) and From the Danube to the Yalu (1954), died at Charleston on 17th April 1984.

Primary Sources

(1) General Dwight D. Eisenhower, diary entry (10th December 1942)

Clark is an unusual individual and is particularly strong in his organizational ability and orderliness of his mind. Unfortunately, I have not yet seen him in a position where he has had to carry the responsibility directly on his own shoulders, but there seems to be no reason why he should not measure up in this respect. I think, however, that for the next several months he will deliver well for several reasons. First, he is getting command of the Fifth Army, for which he has begged and pleaded for a long time. Second, the job, for the moment, is one largely of organization and training, and in these fields I think dark has no superior. Moreover, such burdensome responsibilities as we attached to the job can well be shifted to these headquarters, since it will involve some sort of political contact with the French. Also, I have recently got him promoted to three-star rank.

(2) General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe (1948)

Because of the chance that through accident something might incapacitate me, particularly in the early stages of the operation, it was decided best to have the deputy also an American, so that the fiction of a practically exclusively American operation would be preserved as long as possible. To this post was named General Clark, who had come to England as commander of the II Corps. He was a relatively young man but an extremely able professional, with a faculty for picking fine assistants and for developing a high morale within his staff. During the planning stages of Torch, General Clark acted as deputy and, until the arrival of General Smith in early September, as chief of staff. More than any other one person, dark was responsible for the effective co-ordination of detail achieved in this, the first Allied plan for amphibious attack in the Mediterranean.