Made a brigadier general in August 1941, Clark was working on army expansion when the war began. He was promoted to major general as chief of staff of Army Ground Forces the following April. He rose to lieutenant general in November 1942 and was named deputy supreme commander for the Allied invasion of North Africa, Operation torch, under Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Clark met secretly with Vichy French officials in October 1942 prior to the Allied invasion to seek their cooperation, and he negotiated a cease-fire with the French authorities two days after the landings.
Given command of Fifth Army, Clark led the invading U.S. troops at Salerno, Italy, in September 1943. However, Fifth Army's slow advance up the western side of the Italian peninsula led to harsh criticism of Clark's abilities. His troops suffered heavy casualties in the attempt to penetrate the Gustav Line, and the bombing of the monastery on Monte Cassino plagued his reputation; heavy casualties at the Rapido River prompted a Senate investigation. The Anzio landings in January 1944 did little to speed up Fifth Army's advance, and the assault failed to lead, as was hoped, to a quick capture of Rome. Fifth Army finally liberated Rome on 4 June 1944, but Clark was roundly criticized for his determination that U.S. troops be the first to liberate the Eternal City, which allowed the German Tenth Army to escape encirclement and reach the Gothic Line to the north.
As the cross-Channel invasion of France became the chief focus of Allied efforts in Europe, the Italian theater gradually became secondary. In December 1944, Clark succeeded Sir Harold Alexander as commander of the multinational 15th Army Group, and in March 1945, he became the U.S. Army's youngest full general. He led the Allied offensive that breached the Gothic Line, crossed the Po River, and entered Austria just as the war in Europe ended. On 4 May 1945, he personally received the surrender of all German forces in Italy.
After the war, Clark commanded U.S. occupation forces in Austria (1945–1947), Sixth Army (1947–1949), and Army Field Forces (1949–1952). He succeeded General Matthew Ridgway as commander of U.S. forces in the Far East and of United Nations Forces in Korea (May 1952–October 1953) and chafed at restrictions placed on his command. Clark wrote two memoirs, Calculated Risk (1950) and From the Danube to the Yalu (1954). On his retirement from the army in 1954, he served as president of The Citadel (1954–1960). He died in Charleston, South Carolina, on 17 April 1984. Thomas D. Veve
Blumenson, Martin. United States Army in World War II: The Mediterranean Theater of Operations—Salerno to Cassino. Washington, DC: Office of the Chief of Military History, U.S. Army, 1969.; Blumenson, Martin. Mark Clark. New York: Congdon and Weed, 1984.; Clark, Mark W. Calculated Risk. New York: Harper, 1950.
Thomas D. Veve