Major Figures from The Day Of Battle

Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark

The senior U.S. military commander in Italy. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was Clark’s patron and boss, considered him “the best organizer, planner and trainer of troops that I have met. In preparing the minute details…he has no equal in our Army.” Long-limbed and angular, Clark had dark eyes that constantly swept the terrain before him; to a British general, he evoked “a film star who excels in Westerns.” Yet he could also be short-tempered, aloof, and a compulsive self-promoter. No one played a larger role in the battles for Salerno, Anzio, the Rapido River, and Rome: more than sixty years after World War II, few figures remain more controversial.

Major General Lucian K. Truscott, Jr.

Commander of the 3rd Infantry Division in Sicily and Italy; then the senior Allied commander at Anzio. Before enlisting in the cavalry during World War I, Truscott taught in rural Oklahoma for six years. The schoolmaster never left him—“You use the passive voice too damn much,” he once chided a subordinate—and he wrote long, searching critiques of subordinate performances (as well as long, loving letters to his wife, Sarah.) Even in combat he cherished cut flowers on his desk and ontological inquiries: a staff meeting might begin with Truscott asking the division chaplain, “What is sin?” Many considered him the finest field commander in the U.S. Army.

Major General Geoffrey Keyes

Deputy to George S. Patton in Sicily; then commander of the U.S. II Corps from Salerno through the capture of Rome. As a West Point football star, Keyes was said to be “the only man who could stop Jim Thorpe” on the gridiron. During the Sicilian campaign, one officer wrote, “the impetuous, vitriolic, histrionic Patton is considerably leavened by the calm, deliberate, circumspect Keyes.” A devout Roman Catholic who attended mass each morning, Keyes was an exceptional tactician who confided his wry and often trenchant reflections to a diary, revealed publicly for the first time in The Day of Battle.

Lieutenant Colonel John J. Toffey, III

A battalion and deputy regimental commander from Sicily to Rome. Son of a general, grandson of a Congressional Medal of Honor winner, Jack Toffey had commanded American troops since the first landings in North Africa. Both battle-wise and battle-weary, he was emblematic of those officers who had learned much through hard combat and whose influence on a hundred European battlefields would be both decisive and disproportionate to their numbers in the U.S. Army. “War is as Sherman says,” he wrote his wife, Helen, “and has no similarity with cinema or storybook versions.”