Mark W. Clark

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Mark W. Clark
Mark Wayne Clark 1943.jpg
Nickname(s) "Wayne"
"Contraband" (while at West Point)[1]
Born May 1, 1896
Madison Barracks, Sackets Harbor, New York, United States
Died April 17, 1984 (aged 87)
Charleston, South Carolina, United States
Buried at The Citadel
Charleston, South Carolina, United States
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1917–1953
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Unit USA - Army Infantry Insignia.png Infantry Branch
Commands held 3rd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment
II Corps
Fifth Army
Seventh Army
15th Army Group
Sixth Army
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

General Mark Wayne Clark (May 1, 1896 – April 17, 1984) was a senior 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.

During World War I, he was a company commander in the 11th Infantry Regiment, part of the 5th Division, 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, George Marshall, noticed Clark’s abilities.[2] 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.[3] In March 1945, Clark, at the age of 48, became the youngest American officer to be promoted to the rank of general.

General Dwight Eisenhower, a close friend of Clark's, 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. A 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 military career[edit]

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.[6] 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.[1]

Clark gained an early appointment to the USMA in 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,[1] Clark graduated from West Point in mid-April 1917, two weeks after the American entry into World War I, with a class ranking of 110 in a class of 139, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Graduating alongside Matthew Ridgway, J. Lawton Collins, (both of whom later became Army Chief of Staff) Ernest N. Harmon, William W. Eagles and numerous others, who, like Clark, would all achieve high rank in the army in the years to come, he decided to join the Infantry Branch like his father. He was assigned to the 11th Infantry Regiment, which later became part of the 5th Division, he became a company commander in Company 'K' of the 3rd Battalion, 11th Infantry, with 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 rapidly in rank, promoted to first lieutenant on May 15 and captain on August 5, 1917.[7]

In late April 1918, shortly before Clark's 22nd birthday, he arrived on the Western Front, to join the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), commanded by General John Pershing. Serving in the Vosges mountains, Clark was temporarily commanding the battalion where, in June, he was wounded by German artillery in the right shoulder and back, which knocked him unconscious, and killed the soldier standing next to him, but he managed to recover within six weeks. O'Daniel assumed command of Clark's company. As a result of his convalescence, Captain Clark was transferred to the General Staff Headquarters of the First Army until the end of hostilities on November 11, 1918. He then served with the Third Army in its occupation duties in Germany.

Between the wars[edit]

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,[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 U.S. 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 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.[8]

On August 4, 1941, Clark 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.[7]

World War II[edit]

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, 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, Clark, along with Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower, went to England as Commanding General (CG) of II Corps, and the next month moved up to CG, Army Forces European Theater of Operations (ETO). He was promoted to major general on August 17, 1942. In October, Clark was assigned to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) as deputy to Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander. 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 (see 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 Fifth Army, with Clark as its CG, although neither Clark nor Fifth Army would see service in the fighting in North Africa. The Fifth Army skipped the Allied invasion of Sicily and was tasked with preparing for the eventual invasion of mainland Italy. On 9 September 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 who Clark had doubts about, and the British X Corps, under Lieutenant General Sir Richard L. McCreery) under Clark's command landed at Salerno (codenamed Operation Avalanche). The invasion was nearly defeated 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 British historians and critics for this near-failure, blamed on poor planning by Clark and his staff.[9]

Clark being awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Castelvetrano, Italy, 13 December 1943.

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).[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, under Lieutenant General Sir Bernard C. Freyberg, the Assistant Division Commander (ADC) of the U.S. 34th Infantry Division, Brigadier General Frederic 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."[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 10th 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]

Lieutenant General von Senger und Etterlin, the Commander of XIV Panzer Corps, meets General Mark Clark, Lieutenant General McCreery and Lieutenant General Truscott at 15 Army Group Headquarters, where the Germans received instructions regarding the unconditional surrender of German forces in Italy and West Austria.

In December 1944 Clark succeeded Alexander as commander of the Allied Armies in Italy, renamed the 15th Army Group, and Alexander, now a field marshal, was made Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces Headquarters in the Mediterranean.[18] Clark was promoted to the four-star rank of general on March 10, 1945, aged 48. After the Spring 1945 offensive in Italy, he accepted the German surrender in Italy in May and became Commander of Allied Forces in Italy at the end of World War II in Europe.

Postwar and Korean War[edit]

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 [[United States Secretary of State]|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 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.

Congressional inquiry[edit]

Further information: Battle of Rapido River

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."[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[edit]

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, a close friend and a fellow graduate of the West Point class of 1917.[citation needed]

From 1954 until 1965, after retiring from the army, 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)[24] and From the Danube to the Yalu (1954).[25] His wife, Maurine, also wrote a memoir: Captain's Bride, General's Lady (1956).[26]

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[edit]

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)
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)
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[edit]

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.),[27] and their daughter Patricia Ann (Mrs. Gordon H. Costing).[28]


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.

In film[edit]

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


  1. ^ a b c Atkinson (2002), p.44.
  2. ^ "General Mark Clark", 
  3. ^ "Once Upon a Time in Liberated Rome", Robert Katz’s History of Modern Italy 
  4. ^ From Salerno to Rome: General Mark W. Clark and the Challenges of Coalition Warfare  Master's thesis abstract
  5. ^ Michael Warner; Kenneth McDonald. "US Intelligence Community Reform Studies Since 1947" (PDF). CIA. p. 4. Retrieved 12 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "Clark, General Mark Wayne (1896-1984)". Seattle, Washington. Retrieved 2012-02-10. ..grew up in Highland Park, a Chicago suburb near Fort Sheridan... 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Biography (Mark W. Clark)" (PDF). The Citadel Archives & Museum. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  8. ^ Robertson, Rickey. "Remembering the Louisiana Maneuvers of 1941". SFA Center for Regional Heritage Research. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  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. 
  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. 
  18. ^ Katz (2003), p.27.
  19. ^ The Tuscaloosa News, January 20, 1946, Texas Troops Ask Inquiry
  20. ^ a b " Content". 
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b 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.
  24. ^ Clark, Mark W. Calculated Risk. New York: Harper, 1950. OCLC 358946
  25. ^ Clark, Mark W. From the Danube to the Yalu. New York: Harper, 1954. OCLC 178967
  26. ^ Clark, Maurine Doran. Captain's Bride, General's Lady; The Memoirs of Mrs. Mark W. Clark. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1956. OCLC 1362519
  27. ^ "WILLIAM CLARK Obituary - Washington, DC - The Washington Post". The Washington Post. 
  28. ^


  • Atkinson, Rick (2002). Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942–1943. Holt Paperbacks. ISBN 0-8050-8724-9. 
  • Atkinson, Rick (2008). The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943–1944. Holt Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0-8050-8861-8. 
  • Baxter, Colin F. (1999). Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1887–1976: A Selected Bibliography. Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-29119-7. 
  • Clark, Mark W. (2007). CALCULATED RISK, The War Memoirs of a Great American General. Enigma Books. ISBN 978-1-929631-59-9. 
  • Clark, Mark W. (1954). From the Danube to the Yalu. Harper. OCLC 178967. 
  • Clark, Maurine Doran (1956). Captain's Bride, General's Lady; The Memoirs of Mrs. Mark W. Clark. McGraw-Hill. OCLC 1362519. 
  • Hapgood, David; Richardson, David (2002) [1984]. Monte Cassino: The Story of the Most Controversial Battle of World War II (repr. ed.). Cambridge Mass.: Da Capo. ISBN 0-306-81121-9. 
  • Katz, Robert (2003). The Battle for Rome. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-1642-5. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Newly activated organization
Commanding General II Corps
June 1942–October 1942
Succeeded by
Lloyd Fredendall
Preceded by
Newly activated organization
Commanding General Fifth Army
Succeeded by
Lucian Truscott
Preceded by
George Price Hays
Commanding General Sixth Army
Succeeded by
Albert Coady Wedemeyer