Ike Tells General Mark Clark How Much He Needs Him In 1943

In October 1942, General Mark W. Clark was assigned to the North Africa Theater as deputy commander-in-chief under General Dwight D. Eisenhower. His duty in this assignment was to prepare for Operation Torch, the imminent Allied invasion of North Africa. Clark also made a covert  visit to French North Africa to meet with pro-Allied officers of the Vichy french forces there. Eisenhower greatly appreciated Clark's contributions and promoted him to Lieutenant General three days after the Torch landings. On January 5, 1943 the U.S. Fifth Army was created with Clark as commander. Clark was known to be an arrogant officer with disdain for his British military counterparts. A month later, on February 18, Eisenhower wrote this letter to Clark reassuring him of his friendship but in it he referrs to a "frank talk" they once had about "getting on a wrong track." In his autobiography, Calculated Risk, he reproduces this letter but omits the paragraph about the frank talk with Eisenhower.



One Theory -From Mark Perry, Author of "Partners In Command" "Gary: thank you for this. This is an interesting letter, and is reproduced (as you point out) in a particular part of an interesting section of Clark's book on the North Africa campaign. There were two things that Eisenhower had troubles with with Clark. The first was that Clark was an open critic of the British and a source of trouble on that score with both Marshall and Ike. And Marshall was very much aware of that. I note this in my book. There was another problem: Clark trailed a group of photographers and an entourage of admirers wherever he went, a habit that caused him great problems with Eisenhower. And Marshall was aware of this also. In his latest book, Rick Atkinson gives us an anecdote about Marshall greeting Clark with singular coolness when Clark returned to Washington prior to the end of the Rome campaign  for a time of relaxation. Marshall had not wanted him to come, but he allowed him to come anyway. Marshall just did not like him -- and it was because he simply could not share the limelight in Italy with the British. Marshall had followed the traffic from the combat commanders on that, and he was sick of it. But he would not intervene -- the British did not fire Clark, and they were in charge. So if they could put up with him, Marshall figured, who was he to intervene. It's clear to me now (though not when I wrote my own book) that, if it were not for Eisenhower and if it were not for British tolerance, Clark would have been replaced in Italy. And for cause. There is no way to determine with certainty what Eisenhower talked to Clark about in the February 1943 case, but I would bet anything that it was Clark's Anglophobia and his public comments about them. He was barking his anti-British sentiments around Allied headquarters openly and Eisenhower just got sick of it, and had warned him about it on several occasions. Clark simply could not stomach working with the British, or with any other commander (including Truscott, or Lucas, or anyone else, for that matter) that took any of the credit away from him. He was moved to Morocco for this reason and probably wondered aloud why he was moved to Eisenhower. And Eisenhower told him: we got you out of the way (to your own manure pile, as I said in my book) because you could not get along with the British. And I think Clark learned the lesson, or at least he learned it enough not to be brought back to the states in 1943. But the same bad habits started up again along the Rapido and before Monte Cassino. Clark had just not learned. He could not help himself. That's my bet, and I would bet I'm right."

A Second Theory - From Joseph Persico's book, "Roosevelt's Centurions", Random House, 2013

Mark Clark was no shrinking violet. While rating him one of the best generals in the army, Eisenhower observed it seemed that it seemed he was consumed with a desire to push himself."