Michael Campbell Ross (1905-1982)
Michael Campbell Ross was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England on June 19, 1905. His mother was a Russian immigrant while his father, Archibald John Campbell, was a prominent marine engineer responsible for many large ship building projects. At some point, Ross developed an interest in art, becoming skilled in painting and design. He received commissions for the painted likenesses of several high-ranking individuals, many of which were exhibited in London galleries during the 1920s and 1930s. Ross honed his craft in addition to a succession of jobs, including the Foreign Office in Bulgaria, teaching art courses in London, and in the layout department of an advertising firm. He spoke multiple languages, including Russian, which he learned from his mother, as well as French, his only means of conversing with his French-born wife, who spoke little English.
During World War II, Ross served first in the British Army Camouflage Corps building and concealing airfields in France. Later, in the Balkans, he received an assignment with the Political Warfare Executive, Field Force, the organization responsible for the dissemination of propaganda, lies and rumors designed to mislead the enemy. In Cairo, a bout with malaria and jaundice earned him a twelve week stay in the hospital. Upon his recovery, he transferred to Yugoslavia, working first in the British Embassy before accepting a commission as a temporary lieutenant colonel in the Yugoslav Army relocating captured Slovenes and Serbs to Italy.
Ross was recommended for a position with the British MFAA by Gen. Sir Ronald Adam, a prominent British General and acquaintance of Monuments Man Sir Leonard Woolley, Archaeological Advisor to the War Office. In December 1944 Ross received an assignment as MFAA Officer for North Rhine and Westphalia working as an archivist alongside Monuments Men Maj. Roger Ellis and Sir Hilary Jenkinson. Together, these three Monuments Men prepared a list of industrial concerns in the Western Zone of Germany which was distributed to invading British armies. Ross also traveled throughout the British Zone of Occupation inspecting castles and salt mines in search of looted archives. In Leipzig he recovered original manuscripts by legendary composer Johann Sebastian Bach, as well as sections of the records of the Reichsgericht, the highest court in the German Reich. Other notable recoveries include the Chapter Archive of Xanten from the Borth salt mine in Rheinberg, the Heine Library from Castle Adolfsburg, and a painting by Peter Paul Rubens belonging to the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf at Castle Berleburg.
Ross was discharged from the British Army in February 1946 but chose to continue his work with the British MFAA as a civilian until at least December 1948. He would go on to work as a writer for BBC radio, and as a translator and author of French works on art, culture and history. In recognition of his services to the city of Cologne, he was invited to the celebrations for the 700th anniversary of the cathedral in 1948, and the yearbook of the Zentral-Dombau-Verein published his article in 1958, “How the cathedral received a new roof in 1945”, the original version of which had been published in December 1957 in the BBC magazine “The Listener”. Michael Campbell Ross died in Richmond-upon-Thames, England in June 1982.
The Foundation is very interested in learning more about Michael Ross’s life, as well as his military service as a Monuments Man. If you have any information, please contact .