By ANDREW BOY LE
THE nomination of General Mark Clark to be first United States Ambassador to the Vatican has been noted with keen interest by many of his British war-time colleagues. Lt.-General Sir Oliver Leese, who took over the famous Eighth Army from Field-Marshal Montgomery in 1944, told me: " I know very little about Mark Clark's religious outlook. This was a side of him which was never broached between us. But he was essentially the diplomat-at-war, always considering the larger issues and weighing them against the immediate military advantages.
" He had a really deeply felt sympathy for the Italian people, partly because he was a man of great intelligence, compassion and refined instincts."
General Leese, who had regular dealings with General Clark in the battles which preceded the liberation of Rome, stressed his high personal courage.
" He would go to all lengths to spare hardship and destruction to non-combatants, and his persistent efforts to save Monte Cassino from air attack are well known.
"His own men liked him, too, because he was a kindly leader who inspired confidence."
COOPERATIVE General Leese, It may be recalled, took part in the Cassino engagement with his American opposite number. Unlike one or two of the more spectacular U.S. Army commanders, General Mark Clark was an exceptionally easy man to work with.
" If Viscount Alexander or any other British senior officer were asked, they would say the same thing: he was always most cooperative." said General Leese.
" Even though he sometimes took the opposite view on a problem, he would never let his viewpoint override his judgment of what was best in the common interest."