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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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411 Squadron Crest
24.03.1942 No. 411 Squadron (RCAF) Spitfire Vb AB281 P/O. Ash

Operation: Circus (Daytime Bomber escort)

Date: 24th March 1942 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 411 Squadron (RCAF)

Type: Spitfire Vb

Serial: AB281

Base: RAF Digby

Location: Vielle Eglise near Calais, France.

Pilot: P/O. ‘Tex’ William Franklin Ash RCAF Age 25 PoW. Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria


During a Circus on the afternoon of 24th March 1942 he was attacked by a unit of JG26 and after his guns had jammed, his aircraft was hit a number of times by the attackers. Force landed his Spitfire near the village of Vielle Eglise.

With the assistance from the French Resistance he managed to evade capture for several months. 

Left: P/O. ‘Tex’ William Franklin Ash RCAF (courtesy Bantam Press)

Eventually captured by the Gestapo in Paris, May 1942. 

After several attempted escapes he was eventually sent to Stalag Luft III where he remained until April 1945.

‘Tex’ Ash was and American from Texas who joined the RCAF as the USA were yet to join the allies in the war. 

Awarded the MBE and British Citizenship for his escape attempts. 

Worked with the BBC for a time before embarking on a polical career co-founding the Communist Part of Britain. 

In later years wrote several novels, before in 2005 his wartime memoirs were published under the title of 'Under The Wire' with the help from Brendan Foley. (Shown right)  



Above left: 'Tex' Ash, shortly after capture from Gestapo, clearly showing interrogation bruising and right at Stalg Luft III, shown top right, with Bill Stapleton top left, Paddy Barthropp front left. (courtesy Bantam Press)

Burial details:

None - pilot survived. Fl/Lt. William Franklin Ash MBE, died in London, England, on the 26th April 2014. Age 96.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot, with thanks to the Daily Telegraph, Bantam Press, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses' Vol. 1-3.

'Under The Wire' - ISBN No: 9780553817119  Published by Bantam Press 2005/2006, 321 pages, 16 photographs.

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
Concept of Colonial Discrimination  •  Unauthorised First Long Range Mustang Attack
RAAF Bomb Aimer Evades with Maquis •  SOE Heroine Nancy Wake •  Fane: Motor Racing PRU Legend
Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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