Ross Greening was serving as a B-25 pilot in the Northwest at the outbreak of WWII. In 1942, he participated in the famous Doolittle bombing raid over Tokyo that started a chain of events altering the course of the Pacific war. Greening designed the special bombsight used during the mission, and later painted a one-of-a-kind record of the attack.
Greening next was assigned to the North African theater. His luck ran out in July 1943 when Axis gunners shot his plane down over Italy’s erupting Mt. Vesuvius. After capture and then escaping during an Allied-bombing raid, Greening evaded recapture for more than six months in northern Italy. German soldiers who had been tipped off about Greening’s hideaway in a high mountain cave eventually seized him and two companions.
In a German stalag, Greening was one of the ranking allied camp commanders. He continued to make an amazing pictorial record of the war, both of his own experiences and those of dozens of other prisoners who related their accounts to him. Near the war’s end, the Allied prisoners seized control of the camp before the Russian army overran it. Greening’s invaluable watercolors, sketches, diary, and other items, a good portion of which had been hidden from the Germans, were safely brought out.
After the war, Greening became a prominent spokesman for American prisoners of war by directing a national POW exposition tour. Remaining in the Air Force, he eventually became U.S. air attaché to Australia and New Zealand. Greening recorded his experiences on reel-to-reel tapes and in written form, preserving a remarkably accurate telling of his WWII experiences.
In recent years, Greening’s niece and widow compiled his memoirs. His sensitive observations on the cruelty and injustices of war are moving and deep-felt. His innate courage and resourcefulness were admirable, as were his astute assessment of the evils of Fascism and the measures necessary to prevent threats to world peace.
More than one Doolittle veteran has said, “Ross Greening was the best one of us!”
Color and black and white illustrations / photographs / maps / notes / bibliography / index / 280 pages (2001)