Diary of Writing Italy’s Sorrow

Washington DC, 9 November, 2005
Talked to Bill most of the morning.  An hour or so before lunch, his friend and fellow Okinawa veteran, Dick Whitaker, turned up.  Like Bill, he was incredibly frank and both had incredible memories.  [Their interview is in the Oral History Archive].  Around midday, we headed off to the Citadel, the Military College of the South, where former Marines in the Charleston area meet once a month.  It was great fun, and afterwards, once Dick had gone, Bill showed me around the place.  Mark Clark was President of the Citadel for the last years of his life, and not only is he buried in the grounds, all his very extensive papers – including diaries – are housed here.  So I’m going to have to come back here again.  There are a number of big strategy questions that hang over the Italy campaign, and perhaps the biggest is why Mark Clark disobeyed Alexander’s order at the end of May 1944 to concentrate his forces from Anzio straight towards Valmontone, and instead headed for Rome.  Traditionally, it has been put down to hubris and arrogance on Clark’s part – not to mention rampant Anglophobia, yet it seems to me that there must be more to it than this.  When I was writing my North Africa book, I deliberately did not read anything about Clark or Alexander in Italy because I did not want my judgement of their performances in North Africa to be clouded by what followed after.  And I’m glad I stuck to that self-imposed rule; certainly the picture I developed of Clark in Britain and North Africa in 1942/43 is largely at odds with the character depicted in a number of the general histories I have looked at on the Italy campaign.  Moreover, I rarely see the Clark Papers at the Citadel cited, so with any luck perhaps I might find something of real interest there.

After we left the Citadel, Bill kindly took me on a tour of Charleston, which I was keen to see.  What a beautiful place.  I’ve been to something like 32 of the 52 states in the USA, but I’ve already decided that Charleston is my favourite American city.  Left Bill and Marie late in the afternoon and felt rather sorry to say goodbye.  Got back OK to Washington, picked up a car, and then headed to College Park and the Quality Inn there – it’s becoming a regular berth when I’m over here.


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