In March 1942, Clay was promoted to brigadier general (the youngest in the army) and appointed assistant chief of staff for matériel. Rising to major general that December, he oversaw both military procurement and production. In November 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower called him to Europe to take on the herculean task of rejuvenating for Allied supply the French port of Cherbourg, which the Germans had destroyed. On leave from the army, he was next deputy chief of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion in Washington (December 1944 to April 1945).
Clay returned to Europe at the end of the war as a lieutenant general and Eisenhower's civilian affairs deputy, and in March 1947, he became U.S. military governor in Germany. In that position, he played a key role in rebuilding western Germany. When the Soviet Union imposed a blockade of Berlin in 1948, Clay recommended the Western Allies attempt an airlift, which President Harry S Truman approved. Days after the blockade ended in May 1949, Clay retired. He was one of the few occupying generals to have a street named after him (Clay Allee in Berlin). Clay was then chairman of the board of the Continental Can Corporation, although he carried out several special governmental assignments as well. He died in Chatham, Massachusetts, on 16 April 1978.
T. Jason Soderstrum
Backer, John H. Winds of History: The German Years of Lucius DuBignon Clay. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1983.; Clay, Lucius DuBignon. Decision in Germany. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1950.; Smith, Jean Edward. Lucius D. Clay: An American Life. New York: Henry Holt, 1990.