General Mark W. Clark v Luftwaffe Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring.....

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Lucky13, Aug 28, 2009.

?

Who was better?

  1. Gen. Mark W. Clark

    14.3%
  2. Feldmarschall Albert Kesselring

    85.7%
  1. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Here's another one for you lads :oops:.... Who was the better commander, tactician etc., etc...?
     
  2. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I have to go with Gen Clark, but he was President of my college for a number of years so I'm somewhat biased.

    I thought he did a pretty good job in the Italian campaign.
     
  3. Butters

    Butters Member

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    No contest. Kesselring was a superb theatre commander. Clark, OTOH, was mediocre at best.

    JL
     
  4. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    Kesslering was a "yes man" for Hitler. He was known to be overly optimistic, all of the time. He was known as "Smiling Al". He had a hard time standing up for his operations in the face of Hitler. His handling of the N. Africa campaign is just one good example.
     
  5. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    Not Clark thats for sure I think there are thousands of grave markers that back me up . He screwed the pooch at Anzio
     
  6. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I don't think Anzio can be blamed on Clark as the landing was quiet successful. IIRC the main reasons of them getting bogged down was terrain and the defenses established by the Germans.

    I think he also did a pretty good job overall of Operation Torch. IMHO the number of causalities could have been far worse if it had not been for his diplomacy.

    He was also the supreme commander of UN Forces in Korea where politics was just as big of an obstacle at times as were the North Korean/Chinese forces.
     
  7. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    The road to Rome was open when he landed at Anzio but he dilly dallied long enough to let Kesserling bring in reniforcements
     
  8. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    From ANZIO 1944

    "OKW, Kesselring, and Brig. Gen. Siegfried Westphal, Kesselring's chief of staff, were astonished that the Anzio forces had not exploited their unopposed landing with an immediate thrust into the virtually undefended Alban Hills on 23-24 January. As Westphal later recounted, there were no significant German units between Anzio and Rome, and he speculated that an imaginative, bold strike by enterprising forces could easily have penetrated into the interior or sped straight up Highways 6 and 7 to Rome. Instead, Westphal recalled, the enemy forces lost time and hesitated. As the Germans later discovered, General Lucas was neither bold nor imaginative, and he erred repeatedly on the side of caution, to the increasing chagrin of both Alexander and Clark."

    Also from the same source:

    "The Germans had not been idle during the week after the Anzio landing. The German Armed Forces High Command (OKW) in Berlin was surprised at the location of the landing and the efficiency with which it was carried out. Although they had considered such an attack probable for some time and had made preliminary plans for meeting it, Kesselring and his local commanders were powerless to repel the invasion immediately because of the lack of adequate reserves. Nevertheless, German reaction to the Anzio landing was swift and ultimately would prove far more powerful than anything the Allies had anticipated.

    Upon receiving word of the landings, Kesselring immediately dispatched elements of the 4th Parachute and Hermann Goering Divisions south from the Rome area to defend the roads leading north from the Alban Hills. Within the next twenty-four hours Hitler dispatched other units to Italy from Yugoslavia, France, and Germany to reinforce elements of the 3d Panzer Grenadier and 71st Infantry Divisions that were already moving into the Anzio area. By the end of D-day, thousands of German troops were converging on Anzio, despite delays caused by Allied air attacks."
     
  9. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    I stand corrected I think . however Clark wanted glory and he wanted Rome Clark halted troops that could have liberated Rome so the US troops could get the glory so in my mind he is a dick unfortunately for him the capture of Rome was overshadowed by D Day
     
  10. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    I think Clark was an above average General, I think his greatest failing was at the time of the fall of Rome. Instead of concentrating his efforts to pursuing and destroying as much of the retreating German Army as possible, he was lured by the prize of entering Rome, and presumably earning a place in history as the "liberator of Rome".

    Clark was, like every General, the product of his training, and the system that surrounded him. In this case, it was the American Genre, emphasis on firepower, breakthrough and manouvre given less priority. The concept of the "Indirect Approach" was a total anathema to him. This was amply demonstated by the US efforts to cross the Rapido....hurling massive amounts of firepower, but a direct assault across the River just the same.

    Just the same, Clarks ability to grasp the concepts of the trade, as practiced by his army, were above average, and his ability to embrace the difficult concepts of coaltition warfare where the national characteristics of the allied armies fighting beside him, and under a theatre commander of different nationality (Alexander) were very good.

    He was a team player, and a good one, in my opinion

    Kesselring was in my opinion a better tactician, and a defensive specialist, ably supported by lieutenants like Vietinghoff. He extracted the absolute best out of an army heavily outnumbered, and fighting in difficult conditions . And much of the german forces in Italy were of inferior quality, although the front line units like the Paras were the best of the best.

    For the fighting in Italy, I think Kesselrings abilities were the better suited to the conditions. Its a matter of opinion, of course....
     
  11. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    #11 B-17engineer, Aug 28, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2009
    Clark

    I think Clark failing to utilize the gap in German lines following Monte Cassino allowing Germans to escape wasn't a great move on his part....

    "After the negotiations, Clark was promoted to lieutenant general on November 11, 1942. When the United States created its first field army overseas, the U.S. Fifth Army, Clark was made its commanding general and given the task of training units for the invasion of Italy (Operation Avalanche) in September 1943. According to Montgomery, Clark was subsequently criticized by British historians and critics, for the near-failure of the landings at Salerno, as a result of perceived poor planning.[5]"

    Mark Wayne Clark - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Clark didn't seem to have a lot of people on his side.

    Kesselring

    Kesselring had a near perffect coordination between the three services under his command, he evacuated 40,000 men, but also 96,605 vehicles, 94 guns, 47 tanks, 1,100 tons of ammunition, 970 tons of fuel, and 15,000 tons of stores.


    Kesselring was a bit over optimistic as stated before.




    Which one was a better tactician?

    I am going to say that Kesselring was a better tactician. He was over optimistic. I think Kesselring was a straight forward general. He wanted this done now and didn't want to wait. Clark on the other hand ignored orders during the Battle of the Winter Line, failing to use gaps in German lines was also a bad thing (allowed Germans to escape and reinforce the Gothic Line) and the almost failed landing of Salerno are nothing to be proud of.
     
  12. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Kesselring has a few advantages Clark didn't.
    1. He was on the defensive in a country where the ground practically defended itself.
    2. He had a relatively unified command with regards to national units (almost all German).
    3. He really didn't have to do anything but hold ground.

    Clark had all those things working against him. To his credit, Clark had things Kesselring didn't.
    1. Command of the air
    2. Practically limitless Artillery and Supplies.
    3. Command of the seas.

    Given those details, my nod would go to Kesselring. Did more with less and showed some flashes of genius. Wasn't really suprised on a Strategic level anywhere but Anzio.
     
  13. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    No contest, Kesselring was much superior. Course, I am from Texas and Clark's name in Texas is mud for what he put the 36th through. IMO, Clark was pretty much an egotistcal DUD.
     
  14. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    :lol:Ren, dont hold back now
     
  15. Butters

    Butters Member

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    Kesselring may have been 'over-optimistic', but he never let that optimism (and let's face it...the situations that he faced in the last years of the war demanded some kind of emotional defense against despair...)color his appreciation of the facts. He was a very clear-headed and pragmatic commander who knew how to delegate authority and was more than willing to change his plans when the situation demanded it. The fact that most of his battles were defensive actions means that he is inevitably over-shadowed by those who fought the more interesting and exciting offensive campaigns. However, it is an axiom of war that few tasks demand more from a commander than effective and unflustered rear-guard action in the face of overwhelming enemy materiel superiority.

    Clark was undoubtably an excellent trainer of combat troops, but demonstrated little, if any, of the brilliance and flair that is the hallmark of an above-average field commander. Much of his rapid rise to prominence can be more justifiably attributed to his friendship with Marshall and Eisenhower, than to any personal demonstrations of operational/tactical elan. And of course, his blatantly egotistical decision to divert his army from its essential raison d'etre, ie; the destruction of German military power in Italy - in exchange for the title as Liberator of Rome, speaks for itself...

    As for Korea, didn't Ridgeway have that pretty much sorted out by the time Clark showed up ?

    JL
     
  16. weinace

    weinace Member

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    My father never forgave Clark for 'going' for Rome rather than prevent the German army, after Cassino fell, reaching their next defensive lines.
    This cost avoidable Allied deaths and wounded.
    Regards,
    weinace:(
     
  17. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    weinace, you hit the nail on the head and that was typical of Clark. he probably prolonged the Italian campaign with the subsequent losses immeasurably.
     
  18. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I'll throw this out as food for thought.

    Would the fall of Rome have impacted the Italians to turn on Mussolini or to switch sides and thus saving allied lives more so then going after any other target?
     
  19. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    I don't know too much about either, but I have never held Clark in high opinion. Kesserlring seems to have fought well in a favorable environment.
     
  20. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    what? rome fall in '44 impacted on switch sides of '43?
     
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