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Under the Wire: The bestselling memoir of an American Spitfire pilot and legendary POW escaper
By William Ash
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 *
The remarkable wartime adventures of a Spitfire pilot, escape artist and ‘Cooler King’.
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.