Mark Clark - A critical memorial

Discussion in 'Italy' started by Jonathan Ball, Sep 26, 2010.

  1. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    I was in a discussion earlier this evening over the series shown some years ago on Channel 4 about Alan Whicker's experiences in Italy. I am certain that during one of the programmes there was a reference to a memorial for an American Unit that criticised the command abilities of Mark Clark. Am I recalling this correctly and if so, can anyone give any further information?

    Thanks

    Jonathan
     
  2. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Yes. In the book Whicker's War, there is reference to a US 45 Div memorial in a park in Salerno. Clark's order to 'Prepare to evacuate the beach' is followed by Middleton's 'Leave the water and the ammo on the beach. The 45th Division is here to stay.'
     
  3. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    Yes. In the book Whicker's War, there is reference to a US 45 Div memorial in a park in Salerno. Clark's order to 'Prepare to evacuate the beach' is followed by Middleton's 'Leave the water and the ammo on the beach. The 45th Division is here to stay.'

    Thanks for that. However, is it really a dig at Clark or more an expression of the 45th Division's determination to fight? I've had a look around on Google and can't find anything. Does Alan Whicker expand on the meaning of the orders used on the memorial?
     
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  5. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Jonathan,

    As it happened this programme was repeated recently on one of the history channels, and I DVR-ed it.

    As you know, the context of the programme is a visual memoir (the book repeats the stories) of Alan Whicker's journey up Italy when he served with an official film unit in the years 1943 to 1945. In my opinion it's a very informative and evocative personal snap shot of his experiences - some extremely tragic, some ridiculously comic.

    As mentioned previously, it was Major General Troy Middleton's quote that was juxtaposed with Mark Clark's comment.

    Whicker's phrasing after reading from the monument is

    "It is very rare that an army division would castigate it's own commander like this".

    Clearly, you don't have to be a mind reader to work out what Alan Whicker thought of Mark Clark - and he continues with other barbed comments about Mark Clark through out the narrative. In this respect, I'm sure that I don't have to rehearse the issues associated with Mark Clark's decision making on the Rapido in Jan 1944 and then after the Anzio breakout in May 1944.

    My father, who served with the 8th Army throughout the Italian campaign wouldn't say too many kind words about Mark Clark. He was possibly not alone in this sentiment.

    Richard
     
  6. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Richard -
    your Father had it right about Mark Clark -as did Whicker - especially his treatment of the 36th Division at San Petrio e Fine let alone the other incidents - even Slipdigit agrees with me on that man !
    Cheers
     
  7. Richard Harrison

    Richard Harrison Senior Member

    I am unsure if it is true but when I visited Italy following my grandfathers route from Salerno the Guide did make mention that Clark would only allow press to photograph him from a particular angle ? is this true ?
     
  8. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    What was it exactly that Mark Clark was so hated for regarding the crossing of the Rapido; I gather he said something uncomplimentary about the british troops who died en masse trying to cross? One of the CMF veterans I interviewed hated him so much he could barely bring himself to mention his name.
     
  9. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    I am unsure if it is true but when I visited Italy following my grandfathers route from Salerno the Guide did make mention that Clark would only allow press to photograph him from a particular angle ? is this true ?
    A thread on him here and post 10 anwsers your query. http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/italy/4418-gen-mark-clark.html
     
  10. Tonym

    Tonym WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I am unsure if it is true but when I visited Italy following my grandfathers route from Salerno the Guide did make mention that Clark would only allow press to photograph him from a particular angle ? is this true ?

    Some years ago I heard or read a remark, can't remember which, about Mark Clark. The commentary included a description of him as - A film star style general who always insisted on a team of press photographers and reporters to accompany him and to refer to his command as "Mark Clark's 5th Army".

    Tony.
     
  11. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    As Christians - generally we should not speak ill of the dead - but when it comes to discussing Gen. Mark Clark - this is when God sends us a great trial.....

    Cheers
     
  12. jamesmurrow

    jamesmurrow Senior Member

    Just a point in regard to the Mark Clark link and wtid45 post, when Brian Harpur, 'The Impossible Victory' page 116, asked what he wanted to photographed against, he, Clark, chose the Roma sign post he had sent back home, with the comment '___its a souvenier that means more to me than all the other things I had given to me or collected'
    Have just read Robert Clarke's book on Alexander, 'With Alex From the Irrawaddy to the Po', and he mentions that Ike offered to have Mark Clark removed following his interperation of orders at Anzio, however Alex thought him to be too good a commander to loose, and that Clark didn't cross Alex again after this.
    Regards
    James
     
  13. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    James -

    Alex was a diplomat to the end - one example was that at AFHQ at Caserta there was a continuing struggle between the British - who wanted the windows open all day- and the Americans who were upset that the air conditioning was being interfered with.

    Now it was common knowledge at that time that NONE of them showed up at their offices until around 9:30 - 10 a.m...so the window problem landed on Alex's desk - and Solomon like he issued the following dictum....

    " whoever is in first at their office in the morning can have the windows as their choice for the rest of the day"

    ALL offices were manned by 6.am. from then on - and work rate expanded exponentially

    Cheers
     
  14. Jon Jordan

    Jon Jordan Junior Member

    Thanks for that. However, is it really a dig at Clark or more an expression of the 45th Division's determination to fight? I've had a look around on Google and can't find anything. Does Alan Whicker expand on the meaning of the orders used on the memorial?

    Troy Middleton was one of the US Army's best officers, and didn't hesitate to disagree with his superiors when he thought they were wrong. He pushed Patton into holding Bastogne when Patton ordered him to pull back in a fighting retreat. He was also well liked by Marshall, who had a high opinion of him from the Great War.
     
  15. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    Yes. In the book Whicker's War, there is reference to a US 45 Div memorial in a park in Salerno. Clark's order to 'Prepare to evacuate the beach' is followed by Middleton's 'Leave the water and the ammo on the beach. The 45th Division is here to stay.'
    Jon

    So the above post as Idler produced is a very good example of Middleton's lack of hesitancy in disagreeing with a Superior. Very interesting. Thanks for that.
     
  16. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    It was the US 36th Infantry Division that had the most venon for Clark, given his insistence that they cross the Rapido River against the vehement advice of his subordinates and the commanding geneeral of the 36th ID, Fred Walker.

    Clark was advised to delay the crossing a few days to allow the river to fall and to have the crossing at a different location than the one he chose. His crossing site was barren of trees and undergrowth for several hundred yards back from the river, plus the swampy nature of the ground there prevented the assault boats from being transported by truck anywhere near the river. They had to be carried by the troops a good distance.

    The saying goes that lunacy is repeating the same thing again and again, expecting a different outcome. The first assault failed with tremendous losses and a second one the next night at Clark's order suffered the same greivous losses.

    Clark later relieved Walker of command, due in no small part to Walker's opposition to Clark's commands to attempt the crossing.

    After the war, there were attempts to have a full Congressional inquiry into the debacle, but investigations were limited only to the House and Senate Military Affairs Committees. Nothing ever came out of either one.

    Edit:

    I found this article, by Fred Walker

    General Walker's Story of the Rapido Crossing
     
  17. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    Jeff

    I've just read about that about twenty minutes ago in Carlo D'Este's so-far magnificent Fatal Decision - Anzio and the Battle for Rome!!

    D'Este goes on to add:

    Clark's original idea for the Rapido operation had been to use Major General Lucian K. Truscott's veteran US 3rd Infantry Division. Truscott and his staff studied the proposed operation and concluded it was "a terrible idea that would cost most of the division if it succeeded"

    It's just all adding to the opinion i'm forming of Clark which I will post soon on concluding the book I have just named...if anyone is interested that is!

    Cheers

    Jonathan
     
  18. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Johnathon
    Mark Clark's biggest problem was having his photograph taken showing the left side of his face - next his rush was getting a similar photograph taken under the "ROMA" sign - on June 4th '44 - then shipping it to his home in California - Alex's big fear was that if he got rid of him for disobedience at Anzio was that he might get Patton back.....Clarks tactics were always suspect as was his San Pietro en Fine Battle which has been banned from being shown at West Point - his British X corps - nearly being left alone on the beaches of Salerno -the decimation of X Corps at the Gari/Rapido by 1st and 56th Div and the sole 46th Div trying to break through to the Liri Valley - then calling them not fighters and McCreery a "Feather- Duster" - the man whose tactics finished off the Italian campaign.
    I for one am not too bothered of what you come to think of him - I will have no good words for that man..like most D Day dodgers !
    Cheers
     
  19. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Johnathon -
    this is what I find to be typical of the American generals in Italy - Keyes stated clearly his animosity against the British to keep on his boss's side Mark Clark - Walker was quite laudatory regarding their efforts at the Gari/Rapido in his farewell message to his 36th Divison - quote

    The commander of the British division on my immediate left came to see me that afternoon. He expressed his regrets for having failed to cross the Garigliano the night before, for he was aware that his failure would make the Rapido crossing tougher for us. He extended his wishes for our success, but his attitude indicated that he had grave doubts.

    unfortunately an author spills the beans by quoting his diary on the same incident -

    "A few hours later the Commmander of the British Division came to see me to apologise for his failure - Gen, Hawkeworth said - the attack failed as the River ran higher than expected - no further attempt was possbile - etc.... Walker nodded and got on with his preparations - 'Hawkewroth was sorry but there it was ' The British are the world's greatest diplomats- he told his diary - but you can't count on them for anything more than words ' "

    And that sums up the whole attitude of the Americans - even today - with these wikileaks - no one is any good but them !
    Cheers
     
    BFBSM likes this.
  20. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member

    Johnathon -
    this is what I find to be typical of the American generals in Italy - Keyes stated clearly his animosity against the British to keep on his boss's side Mark Clark - Walker was quite laudatory regarding their efforts at the Gari/Rapido in his farewell message to his 36th Divison - quote

    The commander of the British division on my immediate left came to see me that afternoon. He expressed his regrets for having failed to cross the Garigliano the night before, for he was aware that his failure would make the Rapido crossing tougher for us. He extended his wishes for our success, but his attitude indicated that he had grave doubts.

    unfortunately an author spills the beans by quoting his diary on the same incident -

    "A few hours later the Commmander of the British Division came to see me to apologise for his failure - Gen, Hawkeworth said - the attack failed as the River ran higher than expected - no further attempt was possbile - etc.... Walker nodded and got on with his preparations - 'Hawkewroth was sorry but there it was ' The British are the world's greatest diplomats- he told his diary - but you can't count on them for anything more than words ' "

    And that sums up the whole attitude of the Americans - even today - with these wikileaks - no one is any good but them !
    Cheers

    Jonathan,
    An excellent post.
    In conjunction with the comments made by Mr. Tom Canning, there is only contempt for Mark Clark from the book " Dday Dodgers " by Daniel Dancocks. It was the book on the Italian Campaign.
     

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