Gen Mark Clark

Discussion in 'Italy' started by harribobs, Feb 4, 2005.

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  1. harribobs

    harribobs Member

    Given the choice of halting the retreating german armies or being the first in to liberate Rome, Gen Clark chose Rome and the glory

    I was lead to believe his was recalled and punished for this action, but i have read since that he was not punished at all

    what did happen to him?
     
  2. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    My father served and his unit (24th Field Regt RA) under him in the 5th Army; and he has never had a good word to say about Mark Clark. Moderation refrains me from posting the precise details of his wording...

    I believe Clark continued to command until the end of the conflict in Italy. He kept the 'ROMA' city sign he liberated in 1944in his garden; a trophy of his glory.
     
  3. harribobs

    harribobs Member

    Originally posted by Paul Reed@Feb 4 2005, 01:45 PM
    My father served and his unit (24th Field Regt RA) under him in the 5th Army; and he has never had a good word to say about Mark Clark. Moderation refrains me from posting the precise details of his wording...


    [post=31193]Quoted post[/post]

    My father as DR with the 8th also met him, and was of the same opinion, I must admit this has coloured my judgement of the man

    chris
     
  4. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark, publicist supreme, kept his job at the head of the 5th Army after liberating Rome, even though he had disobeyed orders and not trapped the retreating Germans. Alexander could not easily sack the man who had just taken the first Axis capital city. When Jumbo Wilson was replaced by Alexander, Clark took over the 15th Army Group. Later, Clark was military governor in Austria, and then supreme commander in Korea, after Ridgway came home to become Chief of Staff. He died in the late 1980s, after serving as boss of The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina. Clark's memoirs, "Calculated Risk," are interesting but self-serving reading. He blames Cassino on Freyberg. He was obsessed with his own publicity...self-serving press releases, his staff making up adulatory songs about him...requiring all photographs of him being taken from the left side. Not my favorite general.
     
  5. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    With the breaking of the Hitler Line, the entrapment of the bulk of von Vietinghoff's 10th Army had become a reality. Highway 6, bounded by mountains to the east, was now virtually the only way for the Germans to retreat.

    With 8th Army advancing steadily from the south, led by units of the Canadian Army who had successfully crossed the river Melfa, and US VI Corps, commanded by the aggressive General Truscott, thrusting its way towards Valmontone on Highway 6 (Operation Shingle's second objective), the jaws of the trap were about to be sprung. Sadly it was not to be, as General Truscott was ordered to divert the bulk of his forces to advance north on Highway 7, Via Appia. While it is true that a small number of the enemy could have escaped, the bulk of the German Tenth Army successfully avoided entrapment.

    The egocentrism of the 5th Army Commander, whose decision allowed so many of the enemy to escape and fight another day, is recorded by Eric Sevareid, a well-respected American war correspondent, when the 1st Special Service Force was held up on the outskirts of Rome, during the early afternoon of 4 July.
    Major General Geoffrey Keyes, II Corps Commander, arrived in a jeep and challenged Brigadier General Robert Frederick, 1st Special Force commander: "General Frederick, what's holding you up here?"
    "The Germans, sir," Frederick replied.
    "How long will it take you to get across the city limits?" Keyes asked.
    "The rest of the day. There are a couple of SP guns up there."
    "That will not do. General Clark must be across the city limits by four o'clock."
    "Why?"
    "Because he has to have his photograph taken." Keyes said. Frederick mulled that over briefly and replied, "Tell the general to give me an hour."

    After men of the 1st Special Service Force had silenced the guns, the way was clear for 5th Army commander to have his picture taken in the Holy City. His brief moment of glory was quickly overshadowed as, two days later, the events of D-Day unfolded.

    In satisfying the ego of 5th Army's Commander to be the first to enter Rome, a great opportunity had been squandered. The responsibility for the subsequent loss of so many lives is General Mark Clark's alone - it is a matter for conjecture how many men now resting for ever in a foreign land, would have been reunited with loved ones.
     
  6. Friedrich H

    Friedrich H Senior Member

    Mark Clark was one of the most incompetent and worst generals of WWII. Certainly, the opportunities of the Italian campaign being decisive were lost because of him and therefore, he is also to blame for the tremendous blood bath there.

    At Salerno, Clark, who belived himself to be the American Napoléon, played too bold at Salerno, spreading his small forces over too wide a front. Of course, German counterattacks broke the perimeter once and again… which, of course, weakened his forces and made the race to the Adriatic, and thus the capture of the German forces, impossible.

    At Monte Cassino, when the Rapido river had to be crossed to occupy the low ground before the monastery hills, Clark threw into combat two American divisions, exhausted and weakened after two weeks of continous and ardous fight, despite having a reserve of fresh Free French, Polish and British troops.

    Then he recommended utter precaution at Anzio and didn't do anything to prevent the two weeks of idleness of the beachhead, which allowed marshal Kesselring to mass 10 divisions for a counterattack. And after a bitter fight, when the front was broken at Anzio and Cassino and when the Germans were pulling back, Clark, knowing that after June 6th the Italian campaign would be forgotten, decided to take Rome, a city of no military value, instead of surrounding and destroying two entire German armies, which re-grouped, digged in and formed a new and more formidable defence line.

    Had Patton remained in command of the V Army…
     
  7. harribobs

    harribobs Member

    I see we all just about agree in our opinions!

    I was watching a 'history channle' type programme about operation Torch last night and it would seem he was invovled in the build up - intelligence work prior to that

    apparently in the time waiting to be collected from a north african beach (by submarine) he managed to leave his trousers behind :rolleyes:
     
  8. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    Patton never had the 5th Army...he had the 7th Army in Sicily. But, yes, Mark W. Clark was not one of America's better generals. He was a good self-publicist, which made him remembered. My favorite Mark Clark story is when he was hiding with the British commandos at Cherchel, and kept busy trying (and noisily) to see how his pistol worked. Had it gone off, it would have killed someone and given the whole game away. On the other hand...he'd have sat out the war in a POW camp in Germany, and Lucian Truscott might have led the 5th Army from the beginning... :)
     
  9. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    Originally posted by Friedrich H@Feb 4 2005, 07:40 PM
    Mark Clark was one of the most incompetent and worst generals of WWII. [post=31200]Quoted post[/post]

    I agree and for the reasons stated, but no villain, because I don't suppose he wanted to be so incompetent.

    I have wondered why he wasn't sacked, but if Ike couldn't bring himself to sack Monty, then it would be a bit harsh to blame a fairly weak characted like Alexander for not doing so either with Clark.
     
  10. sappernz

    sappernz Member

    I believe Clark was a villian. He cared more about his own publicity than the lives of the men under him. Even Patton did not trust him and that is saying something. For a man to have fifty public relations people working for him and insisting he be photographed only on his left side, the "good side" is insane. It is also recorded that he said he would order his men to fire on the British if they attempted to reach Rome ahead of him.
    He had the bombing of Cassino authorised at a higher level to absolve him of blame, then blamed Freyburg, who admitted he wanted the bombing.
    Clark was truely promoted to his level of incompetance, its just that, especially at the Anzio debacle, he cost the lives of so many men.
    I have met a couple of Americans who served under him and as has been said before, their comments about him are un repeatable here. As are many of the other Allied troops that suffered because of his ego.
    The War in Italy was greatly prolonged because of his delusional command.
     
  11. sappernz

    sappernz Member

    Just remembered a Mark Clark story which is true.
    The 2 NZEF had the 4 stars of the southern cross painted on many of their vehicles, it's part of our flag, and one day a jeep with such adornment was driving past many American troops.
    The Americans were saluting and wondering who the four star Kiwi General was, sitting in the back seat. The Kiwi private, somewhat drunk and driven by his mate, was saluting back, waving and giving a " broad and heartwarming smile ".
    When Clark enquired why this General had not visited him he found out the real reason. Note please, there are not and never has been any rank of star for NZ Generals.
    He sent a complaint to NZ Div HQ requesting the stars be removed to avoid confusion.
    The response is probably still pending.
    The American troops however were very impressed by the informal attitude of " New Zealand bigshots."
     
  12. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    Originally posted by angie999+Feb 7 2005, 01:29 PM-->(angie999 @ Feb 7 2005, 01:29 PM)</div><div class='quotemain'><!--QuoteBegin-Friedrich H@Feb 4 2005, 07:40 PM
    Mark Clark was one of the most incompetent and worst generals of WWII. [post=31200]Quoted post[/post]

    I agree and for the reasons stated, but no villain, because I don't suppose he wanted to be so incompetent.

    I have wondered why he wasn't sacked, but if Ike couldn't bring himself to sack Monty, then it would be a bit harsh to blame a fairly weak characted like Alexander for not doing so either with Clark.
    [post=31303]Quoted post[/post]
    [/b]One reason Ike didn't fire Clark was that Clark committed most of his biggest blunders when he was no longer under Ike's command. By the time Clark took Rome, Ike was in England, preparing the invasion of Normandy. Alexander is described by Carlo D'Este as being an "enigma," in that he lacked firm handling of his subordinates. Monty would have sacked Clark, Stalin certainly, Mountbatten probably (more to avoid having another glamor boy in the theater).
     
  13. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Originally posted by angie999@Feb 7 2005, 10:29 AM
    I have wondered why he wasn't sacked, but if Ike couldn't bring himself to sack Monty, then it would be a bit harsh to blame a fairly weak characted like Alexander for not doing so either with Clark.


    Both Eisenhower and Alexander were "bound" by the tacit agreement , reached at Casablanca in the interests of Allied harmony, that the dismissing of higher commanders would only be done by superiors of the same nationality.

    Alexander, unlike Clark, refrained from public criticism of the performance of American Forces - even in his memoirs they are muted..

    "When the final battle for Rome was launched the role of the Anzio force was to break out and at Valmontone get across the German main line of supply to their troops at Cassino. But for some inex­plicable reason General Clark's Anglo-American forces never reached their objectives, though, according to my information later, there was nothing to prevent their being gained. Instead, Mark Clark switched his point of attack north to the Alban Hills, in the direction of Rome.

    If he had succeeded in carrying out my plan the disaster to the enemy would have been much greater; indeed, most of the German forces south of Rome would have been destroyed. True, the battle ended in a decisive victory for us, but it was not as complete as it might have been."

    Clark's self-effacing "Calculated Risk" (although read some considerable time ago) I recollect is not so restrained nor is his book on the Po Valley Campaign.
     
  14. Edward_N_Kelly

    Edward_N_Kelly Junior Member

    Originally posted by Kiwiwriter@Feb 4 2005, 04:04 PM
    Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark, publicist supreme, kept his job at the head of the 5th Army after liberating Rome, even though he had disobeyed orders and not trapped the retreating Germans. Alexander could not easily sack the man who had just taken the first Axis capital city. When Jumbo Wilson was replaced by Alexander, Clark took over the 15th Army Group. Later, Clark was military governor in Austria, and then supreme commander in Korea, after Ridgway came home to become Chief of Staff. He died in the late 1980s, after serving as boss of The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina. Clark's memoirs, "Calculated Risk," are interesting but self-serving reading. He blames Cassino on Freyberg. He was obsessed with his own publicity...self-serving press releases, his staff making up adulatory songs about him...requiring all photographs of him being taken from the left side. Not my favorite general.
    [post=31197]Quoted post[/post]

    Reminds me of "Dugout Doug" !

    Cheers
    Edward
     
  15. ourbill

    ourbill Senior Member

    In his interesting book The Impossible Victory, Brian Harpur has a chapter detailing his interview with General Mark Clark in 1964.
    With regards to the taking of Rome, let me quote:
    ' ...Surely now was the time to prompt him about his extraordinary behaviour over the capture of Rome. I took the bull by the horns. ...General, was when you changed the direction of your attack in the break-out from Anzio and instead of following the line laid down apparently by Alexander himself to cut off the German Tenth Army you suddenly switched towards Rome....tapping my pad with his index finger he said quite gently, 'Take note of this, because there has been more nonsense written about that damned incident than anything else I ever did. The fact is that I fulfilled my mission. It may interest you to know that in a way I was over-conscientious in carrying it out because my Commander-in-Chief told me that above all else Rome had to be captured before the invasion of Normandy began and the Americans, not the British were to do it. My C-in-C was the President himself, the late President Roosevelt'.

    It is worth reading the rest of the chapter. A very interesting book.

    Roger
     
  16. No.9

    No.9 Senior Member

    Re Clark’s comment, I can’t take it as more than a casual ‘throw-away’ line. In his memoir Calculated Risk, published 1951, Clark mentions his secret trip back to America landing 11th April. During his visit he met with FDR, among others, and stated; ”As usual he [FDR] showed a surprising knowledge of details, and was quick to offer ideas as I explained our plans for reaching Rome.” Neither in this book nor Harpur’s, is there evidence of context nor tone or manner of delivery. FDR may well have said something along the lines of Clark’s statement, but, this may have come in parting with a pat on the back and sentiments assuring Clark there was confidence and appreciation of what he was doing? Viz. ”Nice to see you again Mark. Give my regards to our boys out there and get me Rome before Winston’s boys do. That’ll upset the ‘ole bulldog.” Now I’ve just made that up, but may not be far from the truth – no one can ask FDR can they. Whatever, if it was a formal strategic order it needs to be in writing and Alexander, as Supreme Commander, must be copied in.

    At various points in his memoir, Clark uses terms which state or suggest that Rome was the be-all and end-all of his desires. Strangely, he also states the clear need to cut off the German retreat? Several times he makes comments about feeling Alexander was leaving him out of the decision loop and how he felt the Supreme Commander was taking control?

    Regarding his decision about taking Rome, there are places in the text which give me the impression he writes in annoyance of reprimand over this issue, and ‘barks’ rhetoric in defence and justification.

    viz: page 332 - ”We not only wanted the honour of capturing Rome, but we felt that we more than deserved it; that it would make up to a certain extent for the buffeting and frustration we had undergone in keeping up the winter pressure against the Germans. My own feeling was that nothing was going to stop us on our push towards the Italian capital. Not only did we intend to become the first army for fifteen centuries to seize Rome from the south, but we intended to see that the people at home knew that it was the Fifth Army that did the job, and knew the price that had been paid for it. I think that these considerations are important to an understanding of the behind-the-scenes differences of opinion that occurred in this period.”.

    Personally I cannot derive anything from the above which I consider warrants disobeying, or at the very least deliberately manipulating, a direct order, or, any reason to supplant clear, correct and logical military rationale to inflict maximum harm to the enemy.

    In the documentary of his war In Italy, Alan Whicker was of the opinion that if Clark had been in the German Army he would have been shot for his conduct. An opinion I find myself in agreement with.

    No.9
     

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