Four TLSs signed “Mark” or “Mark W. Clark,” each one page, 8 x 10.5, Headquarters United States Forces in Austria letterhead, dated between August 1945 and January 1946. Each letter is addressed to Lieutenant General Geoffrey Keyes, and contains earnest and glowing critiques of the latter's role on the Italian front.
The earliest letter, August 30, 1945, in part: “Today you are leaving the II Corps to take over the command of the Seventh Army. This is a well-deserved advancement and I rejoice in the wisdom and understanding which General Eisenhower has shown in selecting you to command an Army…Since September 19, 1943, you have commanded the II Corps, which under you made such a magnificent record in Italy. While in the Fifth Army, your II Corps made the breakthrough south of Rome, the advance to the Arno, and the breakthrough of the Gothic Line. Then, when I took over command of the 15th Army Group, you again led the II Corps as one of my strongest united in the breakthrough into the Po Valley and in forcing the surrender of all the German forces in Italy. Yours has been a wonderful record of history-making achievement. We who fought in Italy are proud of you and the II Corps, and when next we meet, I shall expect to see the familiar signs of II Corps efficiency no matter what job you are doing.”
The second, dated September 11, 1945, in part: “I appreciate most deeply your message sent on the anniversary of the American landings at Salerno. My gratitude and admiration go out to. The men of the II Corps and of the Fifth Army who fought under you and to all the men who were with me then and to those who later joined in the successful campaign northward through Italy…We now face the challenge of making that peace firm and lasting. I am sure we can meet that challenge as we overcame the obstacles at Salerno and the hardships of the Italian campaign.”
The third, dated September 12, 1945, in part: “When our American Fifth and British Eighth Armies crossed the Po to force the German foe into unconditional surrender in May 1945, we could look back on the lessons and experience of two years of campaigning in the difficult, mountainous terrain of Italy. Italian topography, house and village construction, climate and communication routes had favored the defense heavily, and necessitated our continual improvisations in offensive technique to secure our advance to final victory.”
The fourth, January 5, 1946, in part: “I shall never forget my days with II Corps, nor the indispensable contribution which it made under your magnificent leadership during our long Italian campaigns, and to our final victory last May.” In overall fine condition.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.