Mark Wayne Clark

The American army officer Mark Wayne Clark (1896-1984) held important commands in Europe and Asia and became one of America's leading anti-Communist propagandists.

Mark Clark was born in Madison Barracks, N.Y., on May 1, 1896. After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy in 1917, he fought during World War I as an infantry officer in France, where he was wounded and decorated. He attended the Army's postgraduate schools between the wars and was widely known as a competent, ambitious officer.

In June 1942 Clark became Gen. Dwight Eisenhower's deputy for the invasion of French North Africa that began on Nov. 8, 1942. The next day Clark—whose code name, "Eagle," fitted both his personality and his appearance, since he had a thin but prominent nose—flew into Algiers, where he worked out an armistice with the French. The basis of the deal was American recognition of the French fascist Adm. Jean Darlan as governor of French North Africa. The "Darlan deal" brought a storm of abuse on Clark's and Eisenhower's heads; placing a fascist in charge of the first territory occupied by the Americans in World War II appeared to make a mockery of the principles for which the Allies claimed to be fighting. After Darlan's assassination on Dec. 24, 1942, the indignation faded.

Much to his annoyance, Clark did not hold a combat command in either the Tunisian or Sicilian campaigns. Instead, Eisenhower had him train the U.S. 5th Army for the invasion of Italy that would begin on Sept. 8, 1943.

At the outset Clark's forces just managed to cling to their first beachhead at Salerno south of Naples, and the Italian campaign that followed was one of endless frustration. Clark and the British forces on his right flank were always short of supplies and manpower, and progress up the Italian peninsula was painfully slow. Not until June 5, 1944, did Clark drive the Germans from Rome, a feat almost ignored by the world since the Normandy invasion began the next day. During the remainder of 1944 and the first 4 months of 1945, Clark's troops crept up the peninsula, forgotten by most of the world. For a man of Clark's ambition and keen desire for publicity, it was a trying time.

After the German surrender Clark became commander in chief of the American occupation forces in Austria. He quickly adopted an attitude of extreme hostility toward his Soviet counterparts on the Allied Control Commission for Austria. He was impatient with what he called the "cream puff and feather duster approach to communism" and advocated a get-tough policy with the Russians. He loudly protested against what he considered to be the "appeasement" of the Soviet Union by the United States.

In 1947 Clark served as deputy secretary of state, meeting with the Council of Foreign Ministers to negotiate a peace treaty for Austria. No progress was made at the talks, and late in the year Clark returned to the United States to take command of the 6th Army. Two years later he became chief of Army Field Forces, which made him responsible for the training of the Army. In the spring of 1952 he became commander in chief of the United Nations command in Korea, as well as commanding general of the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East. By the time Clark took over in Korea there was a virtual stalemate on the battlefront, and his major concerns were a prisoner-of-war mutiny and the armistice negotiations. On the military front his tactic was to inflict maximum casualties on the Chinese enemy. Fourteen months after he arrived, he signed the armistice agreement and fighting ended. Clark was unhappy with the outcome of the Korean War. He had hoped the United Nations would be able to defeat the North Koreans and Chinese and reunify Korea under Syngman Rhee.

Clark left the Army in 1954 to become president of the Citadel Military College of South Carolina, a position he held until his retirement in 1966. He remained a prominent anti-Communist, especially sensitive to what he considered a serious threat of communism from within the United States. He died on April 17, 1984.


Further Reading on Mark Wayne Clark

Clark wrote two volumes of memoirs: Calculated Risk (1950), a full and sprightly account of his World War II career, and From the Danube to the Yalu (1954), in which he describes his dealings with the Communists from 1946 to 1953. Kenneth G. Crawford, Report on North Africa (1943), and Alan Moorehead, The End in Africa (1943), provide information on the North African campaign. For general background on the war in Italy see Pietro Badoglio, Italy in the Second World War: Memories and Documents (trans. 1948), and Chester G. Starr, ed., From Salerno to the Alps: A History of the Fifth Army (1948).