Friday, 29 August 2008

Mark Clark

General Mark Wayne Clark - Commander of Allied Forces in Italy during WWII

Mark Wayne Clark (May 1, 1896 – April 17, 1984) was an American general during World War II and the Korean War.

Early life and career

Clark was born in Madison Barracks, Sackets Harbor, New York, but spent much of his youth in Illinois. He was a possible cousin of General George Marshall.

Clark graduated from West Point in 1917. He had gained an early appointment to the military academy, but lost time from illnesses. He was appointed to the rank of captain in the infantry in 1917 and served in France during World War I in the U.S. 11th Infantry, where he was wounded.

Between the wars, Clark served as a deputy commander of the Civilian Conservation Corps district in Omaha, Nebraska. He attended the Command and General Staff School in 1935 and the Army War College in 1937. Clark had retained his World War I rank of Captain following the armistice and was promoted to Major in 1932. Major Clark was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1940, and in August of 1941 was promoted two grades to temporary Brigadier General, and received further promotion to temporary Major General less than a year later.

World War II

During World War II, he was the Deputy Commander for Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa. He landed by submarine weeks before the invasion to negotiate with the Vichy French at Cherchell on October 21–22, 1942.
Clark on board USS Ancon during the landings at Salerno, Italy, 12 September 1943.
Clark on board USS Ancon during the landings at Salerno, Italy, 12 September 1943.

After his negotiations with the Vichy French at Cherchell, Major General Clark was promoted to temporary Lieutenant-General in November 1942 and was subsequently given command of the Fifth U.S. Army shortly before the invasion of Italy (Operation Avalanche) in September 1943. The near-failure of the landings at Salerno has been blamed on Clark's poor planning but since an operation with such magnitude can't be let or attributed on just one man's hands, politician or military one, this claim seems doubtfull[1] although his conduct of operations remains controversial, particularly the Clark's actions during the Battle of the Winter Line, when Clark, ignoring orders from his Army Group Commander, the British Harold Alexander, sent his tired units towards Rome, which was captured on 4 June 1944 (two days before the Normandy landings), rather than exploiting the gap in the German positions to entrap and capture German units. In December 1944 he succeeded Harold Alexander in command of the 15th Army Group, putting him in command of all Allied ground troops in Italy, what resembled more a United Nations coalition - a hodgepodge of diverse cultures with conflicting interests[2].

At the war's end Clark was Commander of Allied Forces in Italy and, later, U.S. High Commissioner of Austria. Returning home, he commanded the Sixth U.S. Army.

During and after the Korean War

During the Korean war, he took over as commander of the United Nations forces on May 12, 1952, succeeding General Matthew Ridgway. It was Clark who signed the cease-fire agreement with North Korea in 1953.

After retiring from the Army, General Clark served (1954 to 1966) as president of The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, in Charleston, South Carolina. He wrote two volumes of memoirs: Calculated Risk (1950) and From the Danube to the Yalu (1954).

Mark Clark's quick rise from field officer through general officer ranks has been attributed to his relationship with Generals George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower.

Among his awards and decorations are the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Grand Croix Légion d'honneur

Clark is buried at The Citadel.

An Interstate spur (I-526) connecting different suburbs in the Charleston metropolitan area and a bridge in Washington state connecting Camano Island with the mainland bear his name.

When the victorious Americans entered Rome in June of 1944, chief-General Mark Clark was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
With the American Grand Protector of SMOM already in contact with the Vatican, and Allen Dulles busy negotiating with Nazis in Switzerland, the Amerieans entered Rome June 4, 1944. On July 7 General Mark Clark was made a Knight Grand Cross of SMOM.
General Clark has been awarded [...] Maltese Order of Malta (Cross of Merit First Class) ; (Proof Positive)
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