|Birth name Mark Wayne Clark|
Role Senior officer
Name Mark Clark
|Years of service 1917–1953|
|Nickname(s) Contraband (while at West Point)|
Born May 1, 1896 Madison Barracks, Sackets Harbor, New York, U.S. (1896-05-01)
Buried at The Citadel Charleston, South Carolina
Allegiance United States of America
Died April 17, 1984, Charleston, South Carolina, United States
Spouse Maurine Doran (m. 1924–1966)
Children Patricia Ann Clark, William Clark
Books Calculated risk, From the Danube to the Yalu, Leaving Home: A Training Manual for Workers with Young People
Grandchildren Doran Clark, Louise Caire Clark
Similar People Harold Alexander - 1st Earl A, Albert Kesselring, Matthew Ridgway, Lucian Truscott, James Van Fleet
Service/branch United States Army
Mark Wayne Clark (May 1, 1896 – April 17, 1984) was a United States Army officer who saw service during World War I, 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.
- Early life and military career
- Between the wars
- World War II
- Post war era and Korean War
- Congressional inquiry
- During and after the Korean War
- Post military career
- Retirement and death
- Personal life
- In film
During World War I, he was a company commander and served in France in 1918, as a 22-year old captain, where he was seriously wounded by shrapnel. After the war, the future U.S. Army Chief of Staff, General George Marshall, noticed Clark’s abilities. During World War II, he commanded the United States Fifth Army, and later the 15th 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 R. L. G. Alexander, and allowing the German 10th Army to slip away, in his drive to take Rome, the capital of Italy, a strategically unimportant city. The German 10th Army then joined with the rest of the German army group at the Trasimene Line. In March 1945, Clark, at the age of 48, became the youngest American officer ever to be promoted to the rank of four star general.
General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, a close friend of Clark's, considered him a brilliant staff officer and trainer of men. Clark was awarded many medals, including the Distinguished Service Cross, the U.S. Army's highest award. A legacy of the "Clark task force" that he led in 1953–1955, which reviewed and made recommendations on all federal intelligence activities, is the term Intelligence Community.
Early life and military career
Clark was born in Madison Barracks, Sackets Harbor, New York, but spent much of his youth in Downers Grove, Illinois, while his father, Charles Carr Clark, a career infantry officer in the United States Army, was stationed at Fort Sheridan. His mother, Rebecca "Beckie" Ezekkiels, was the daughter of Romanian Jews, but Mark Clark was baptized Episcopalian while a cadet at the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York.
Clark gained an early appointment to the USMA in June 1913 at the age of 17, but lost time from frequent illnesses. Known as "Contraband" by his classmates, because of his ability to smuggle sweets into the barracks, While at West Point he met and befriended Dwight D. Eisenhower, who lived in the same barracks division as Clark and was his company cadet sergeant. Although Eisenhower was two years senior to him, having graduated as part of the West Point class of 1915, the two formed a friendship. Clark graduated from West Point on April 20, 1917, exactly two weeks after the American entry into World War I, and six weeks before schedule, with a class ranking of 110 in a class of 139, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He graduated alongside young men such as Matthew Ridgway, J. Lawton Collins, (both of whom later became U.S. Army Chief of Staff) Ernest N. Harmon, William W. Eagles, Norman Cota, Laurence B. Keiser, Frederick A. Irving, William C. McMahon, Bryant Moore and William K. Harrison. Like his father, he decided to join the Infantry Branch and he was assigned to the 11th Infantry Regiment, which later became part of the 5th Division, where he became a company commander in Company 'K' of the 3rd Battalion, 11th Infantry, with First Lieutenant John W. O'Daniel serving as a platoon commander in his company. In the rapid expansion of the U.S. Army during World War I, he rose quickly in rank, promoted to first lieutenant on May 15 and captain on August 5, 1917.
In late April 1918, shortly before Clark's 22nd birthday and over a year since his graduation from West Point, he arrived on the Western Front, to join the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). Arriving with his company at the French port of Brest on 1 May, his 22nd birthday, the next few weeks were spent in training in trench warfare under the tutelage of the French Army and soon afterwards the division was inspected by General John J. Pershing, the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the AEF on the Western Front. Serving in the Vosges mountains, the Commanding Officer (CO) of the regiment's 3rd Battalion, Major R. E. Kingman, fell ill and Clark was promoted to acting battalion commander on June 12, 1918, with O'Daniel taking over command of Clark's company. Two days later, when Clark's division was relieving a French division in the trenches, he was wounded by German artillery in the right shoulder and upper back, knocking him unconscious; the soldier standing next to him, Private Joseph Kanieski, was killed. They were two of the first casualties suffered by the 5th Division during the war.
Despite his injuries, however, Captain Clark managed to recover within six weeks, although he was graded unfit to return to the infantry. As a result of his convalescence, he was transferred to the Supply Section of the First Army. In this position he served with Colonel John L. DeWitt, and supervised the daily provision of food for the men of the First Army, which earned Clark recognition at the higher levels of command. He stayed in this post until the end of hostilities on November 11, 1918. He then served with the Third Army in its occupation duties in Germany and returned to the United States in June 1919, just over a year after being sent overseas.
Between the wars
During the period between the world 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 U.S. Army Infantry School, and then served as a staff officer with the 30th Infantry Regiment at The Presidio in San Francisco, California. His next assignment was as a training instructor to the Indiana Army National Guard, 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 1935–1936, between tours at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff School in 1935 and the U.S. Army War College in 1937. Among his classmates there were Matthew Ridgway, Walter Bedell Smith and Geoffrey Keyes, all of whom he would serve with during World War II.
Assigned to Fort Lewis, Washington, Clark was selected by General George Marshall, the newly promoted Army Chief of Staff, to instruct at the U.S. Army War College in March 1940, where he received a promotion to lieutenant colonel on July 1. Clark and Brigadier General Lesley J. McNair, later the commander of Army Ground Forces, selected the thousands of acres of unused land in Louisiana for military maneuvers in the Louisiana Maneuvers. On August 4, 1941, Clark, skipping the rank of colonel, was promoted two grades to brigadier general as the U.S. 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.
World War II
In January 1942, a month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and subsequent American entry into World War II, Clark was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff of Army Ground Forces, commanded by Lieutenant General Lesley J. McNair, and in May 1942, became its Chief of Staff as staff officers were rapidly moved to newly created commands by General Gage Michael Miller.
In April 17, 1942 Clark was promoted to the two-star rank of major general. Just two weeks before his 46th birthday, he was the youngest major general in the U.S. Army. In June, Clark, along with Major General Dwight Eisenhower, was sent to England as Commanding General (CG) of II Corps, and the next month moved up to CG, Army Forces in the European Theater of Operations (ETO). Along with Eisenhower, he was sent to work out the feasibility of a cross-channel invasion of German-occupied Europe that year, based on the Germany first strategy, which had been agreed on by American and British military and political leaders the year before if the United States were to enter the conflict. It was while in England that Clark first met the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, who was much impressed by Clark, referring to him as "The American Eagle", along with General Sir Alan Brooke, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff (the professional head of the British Army), and Lieutenant General Bernard Montgomery, then commander of the South Eastern Command. After a cross-channel invasion was ruled out for 1942, attention was turned to planning for an Allied invasion of French North Africa, given the codename of Operation Gymnast, later Operation Torch. In October, Clark was assigned to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) as deputy to Eisenhower, who was now the Supreme Allied Commander in the theater. In doing so he relinquished command of II Corps. Clark's duty was to prepare for Operation Torch. Clark also made a covert visit to French North Africa (see Operation Flagpole) to meet with pro-Allied officers of the Vichy French forces.
Eisenhower greatly appreciated Clark's contributions. Clark, at the age of 46, was promoted to lieutenant general on November 11, 1942, three days after the Torch landings. He was the youngest three-star general in the U.S. Army. On January 5, 1943, the United States created its first field army overseas, the Fifth Army, with Clark as its CG, although neither Clark nor Fifth Army would see service in the fighting in North Africa. Many officers, most notably Major General George S. Patton, Jr., who was both older and senior to Clark, and was then commanding I Armored Corps, came to resent him, believing he had advanced too quickly. Patton, in particular, believed Clark was "too damned slick" and believed Clark was much too concerned with himself. In the presence of senior commanders Patton and Clark were friendly, although Patton, in his journal, wrote "I think that if you treat a skunk nicely, he will not piss on you--as often", referring to Clark after both he and General George Marshall, the Army Chief of Staff, visited Patton's headquarters as the latter explained his plans for the upcoming invasion of Sicily. Clark, for his part, claimed he found it difficult to command men who had been his senior, and he proved reluctant to remove those commanders if they failed in battle. The Fifth Army's initial mission was preparing to keep a surveillance on Spanish Morocco.
On September 9, 1943, the Fifth Army, composed of the U.S. VI Corps, under Major General Ernest J. Dawley–who was a decade older than Clark and about whom Clark had doubts – and the British X Corps, under Lieutenant General Sir Richard L. McCreery – to whom Clark would later scornfully refer as a "feather duster" – under Clark's command landed at Salerno (codenamed Operation Avalanche). The invasion, despite good initial progress, was nearly defeated over the next few days by numerous German counterattacks and Major General Dawley, the VI Corps commander, was sacked and replaced by Major General John P. Lucas, who himself was later sacked and replaced after his perceived failure during Operation Shingle. Clark was subsequently criticized by historians and critics for this near-failure, blamed on poor planning by Clark and his staff. Despite this, however, Clark was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The Fifth Army, by now composed of five American divisions (the 3rd, 34th, 36th and 45th Infantry, along with the 82nd Airborne) and three British divisions (7th Armoured, 46th and 56th Infantry), operating alongside the British Eighth Army, under General Bernard Montgomery, subsequently advanced up the spine of Italy, and captured the Italian city of Naples on October 1, 1943 and crossed the Volturno Line in mid-October. Progress, however, soon began to slow down, due to German resistance, lack of Allied manpower in Italy, and the formidable German defenses known as the Winter Line, which was to hold the Allies up for the next six months.
During the Battle of Monte Cassino, Clark ordered the bombing of the Abbey on 15 February 1944. This was under direct orders from his superior, British General Sir Harold R. L. G. Alexander, Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the Allied Armies in Italy (AAI). 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, under Lieutenant General Sir Bernard C. Freyberg, the Assistant Division Commander (ADC) of the U.S. 34th Infantry Division, Brigadier General Frederic B. Butler, claimed "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." The commander of the 4th Indian Infantry Division, Major General Francis Tuker, urged the bombing of the entire massif with the heaviest bombs available. Clark finally pinned down the C-in-C, Alexander, recounting that "I said, 'You give me a direct order and we'll do it' and he did."
Clark's conduct of operations in the Italian Campaign is controversial, particularly during the actions around the German Winter Line, such as the U.S. 36th Infantry Division's assault on the Gari river in January 1944, which failed with 1,681 casualties and nothing gained. American military historian Carlo D'Este called Clark's choice to take the Italian capital of Rome, after Operation Diadem and the breakout from the Anzio beachhead, in early June, rather than focusing on the destruction of the German 10th Army, "as militarily stupid as it was insubordinate". 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.
Clark led the Fifth Army, now much reduced in manpower, having given up both the U.S. VI Corps and the French Expeditionary Corps (CEF) for Operation Dragoon, the Allied invasion of Southern France (which Clark had always opposed), throughout the battles around the Gothic Line. For the offensive, Clark's Fifth Army (now composed only of the II Corps–with the 34th and 85th Infantry Divisions–under Major General Geoffrey Keyes, and the IV Corps–with the 88th and 91st Infantry Divisions–under Major General Willis D. Crittenberger and the 1st Armored Division in reserve) was reinforced by the British XIII Corps, under Lieutenant General Sidney Kirkman. The initial stages went well until the autumn weather began and, as it did the previous year, the advance bogged down.
In December 1944 Clark succeeded Alexander as commander of the AAI, renamed the 15th Army Group, and Alexander was made the Supreme Commander of the AFHQ in the Mediterranean, replacing Field Marshal Sir Henry Maitland Wilson, who himself was called to Washington to replace Field Marshal Sir John Dill as head of the British Joint Chiefs of Staff. Succeeding Clark as commander of the Fifth Army was Lieutenant General Lucian Truscott, who had previously commanded VI Corps and, before that, the 3rd Division. Clark was promoted to the four-star rank of general on March 10, 1945, aged 48, the youngest in the United States Army. Clark led the 15th Army Group in the Spring 1945 offensive in Italy, codenamed Operation Grapeshot, which brought the war in Italy to an end, and afterwards he accepted the German surrender in Italy in May and became Commander of the Allied Forces in Italy at the end of World War II in Europe.
Early on the morning of January 28, 1944, a PT boat carrying Clark to the Anzio beachhead, six days after the Anzio landings, was mistakenly fired on by U.S. naval vessels. Several sailors were killed and wounded around him. 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.
Post-war era and 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. On October 20, 1951, he was nominated by President Harry S. 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.
It was announced on 20 January 1946, that the U.S. 36th Infantry 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 as 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."
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."
Clark was absolved of blame by the House of Representatives, but never commented on the Rapido River episode following World War II.
During and after the Korean War
During the Korean War, he took over as commander of the United Nations Command on May 12, 1952, succeeding General Matthew Ridgway, a close friend and a fellow graduate of the West Point class of 1917. Clark commanded UN forces in Korea until the armistice was signed on July 27, 1953 and retired from the Army on October 31st of the same year.
Post military career
From 1954 until 1965, after retiring from the Army, Clark served as president of The Citadel, the military college located in Charleston, South Carolina.
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. 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.
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. The Clark task force coined the term Intelligence Community to describe “...the machinery for accomplishing our intelligence objectives.”
Clark wrote two memoirs: Calculated Risk (1950) and From the Danube to the Yalu (1954). His wife, Maurine, also wrote a memoir: Captain's Bride, General's Lady (1956).
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.
Retirement and death
General Clark retired in 1965 when he stepped down as president of The Citadel. He lived in Charleston, South Carolina in retirement. He died in Charleston on April 17, 1984, shortly before his 88th birthday. He was the last surviving officer who had held four-star rank during World War II. He was buried on the campus of The Citadel.
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 was Maj. William Doran Clark, U.S.A. (Ret.), and their daughter Patricia Ann (Mrs. Gordon H. Costing). Later in life he married Mary Dean.
An interstate spur (I-526) in the suburbs of Charleston, South Carolina, was named Mark Clark Expressway in his honor.
Mark Clark Hall on the campus of The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina is named in General Clark's 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.
The term "intelligence community", created by the federal intelligence-review "Clark Task Force" General Clark headed from 1953 to 1955, remains in use by the U.S. government and civilian populace.
Clark was portrayed by Michael Rennie in the film The Devil's Brigade. The film is about the exploits of the 1st Special Service Force, commanded by Colonel Robert T. Frederick, which came under Clark's command in the Italian Campaign.