by William Ash
Category: History / European
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Publication date: 5 June 2006
Number of pages: 416
Determined to take on the Nazis, Texan Bill Ash joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1939 and in so doing sacrificed his citizenship. Before long, he was sent to England wherehe flew Spitfires. Shot down over France in March 1942, he survived the crash-landing and, thanks to local civilians, evaded capture for months only to be betrayed to the Gestapo in Paris. Tortured and sentenced to death as a spy, he was saved from the firing squad by the Luftwaffe who sent him to the infamous 'Great Escape' POW camp, Stalag Luft III. It was from there that Bill began his 'tour' of Occupied Europe. Breaking out of a succession of camps, he became one of only a handful of serial escape artists to attempt more than a dozen break-outs - over the wire, under it in tunnels, through it with cutters or simply strolling out of the camp gates in disguise! They were years of extraordinary hardship, frustration and brutality - the penalty for escaping was a long spell in solitary - but throughout it all Bill Ash displayed not just remarkable courage but also an anarchic sense of humour, great humanity and an unstoppable desire for freedom. Honest, funny and exciting, Under the Wire is both a riveting war memoir and a tribute to the bravery and resolve of an entire generation.
What the papers say:
"A story of bravery in the face of brutality, of comradeship, of a never-say-die attitude; and running through it is a sense of humour that cheers up the grimmest situation" THE TIMES "A life of adventure that will inspire and astonish... Ash is a writer who makes his readers feel as if they're right there beside him through it all" -- HOMER HICKAM, author of THE ROCKET BOYS "A remarkable story... brilliantly told and with all the authentic sights, sounds and smells of the World War 2 prison camp" -- TONY RENNELL, author of THE LAST ESCAPE "Well written and exciting... in this remarkable book...there are passages...that make the reader want to stand up and cheer" -- CHARLES ROLLINGS, author of WIRE AND WALLS "An astonishing tale - totally spellbinding. I always knew Bill Ash was a special guy but never realised how special... Perhaps his greatest achievement was to emerge from the horrors of the war with his faith in ordinary people enhanced" -- ALAN PLATER
Born in Texas in 1917, William Ash worked his way through school and college during the Great Depression, graduating from the University of Texas, Austin. At the outbreak of war in Europe he rode the rails to Canada and enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. A Spitfire pilot, he saw action with 411 Squadron. Shot down over France in March 1942, he was eventually captured and sent to a succession of POW camps, from which he escaped or attempted escape on a regular basis. At war's end, he was awarded an MBE for his escaping activities. After gaining a further degree at Balliol College, Oxford, Bill worked for the BBC in India, then as a producer for BBC Radio Drama. A writer and journalist, he is also past president of the Writers' Guild. Married to the academic Ranjana Ash, he lives in London. Brendan Foley grew up in Belfast and now divides his time between London and Santa Monica. An award-winning features journalist, he ran a successful communications consultancy and now writes full-time, including fiction, biography and screenplays. His first feature film is currently in pre-production with Affinity Films International. Brendan first met Bill Ash in the 1980s. Inspired by the former pilot's life, he wrote a screenplay of his wartime adventures, then encouraged Bill to tell his story to a wider audience, through Under the Wire.
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