William Franklin "Tex" Ash

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Group Captain Campbell, Hamilton Officer, in Attendance

Somewhere in England, Sept. 6, 1941 - (CP Cable) - Prime Minister Mackenzie King, visiting the first all-Canadian fighter station in Great Britain, told airmen today that "there is nobody in the world more in the hearts of all of us than you."

Enjoying Visit
Obviously enjoying his visit to the great station, the Prime Minister chatted with young flyers standing beside their Spitfires, Hurricanes and Beaufighters.
Scores of the Royal Canadian Air Force men snapped pictures of Mr. King as he stood on the wing of an aeroplane and later sat in the cockpit of a Hurricane wearing a helmet and talking to the station control room over radio telephone.
"Nothing could inspire me more than meeting you airmen," he said in the longest informal speech he has made since coming to Britain. The speech was made to a Spitfire squadron.
"I suppose there is nobody in the world more in the hearts of all of us than you. I can't begin to tell you how proud we are of our air force.
"The people of Canada follow with pride and thankfulness your gallant exploits. Your bravery and courage are known to them."

Pleasing Plan
Mr. King recalled that he had paid tribute to the R.C.A.F. flyers in his speech this week at the Lord Mayor's luncheon in London and said that no words he had ever uttered gave him more pleasure.
He added that "no act of the government ever pleased my colleagues and myself more than the working out of this plan with British representatives," referring to the initial conversations with Lord Riverdale and a British mission which led to the Commonwealth air training plan.
"From my heart I trust the all-seeing and living Providence will watch over you." Mr. King concluded: "God bless you all, boys."
Wearing a grey suit, a black Homburg and carrying a cane, Mr. King was in a jovial mood as he talked with the airmen. He climbed up on the wing of one of the new model Spitfires to shake hands with P/O Win Ash, of Dallas, Tex.
As photographers took pictures, the Prime Minister quipped: "Don't start this plane while I'm here. These press men would like nothing better than to have me taken up 60 feet and dropped."

Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King shakes hands with American RCAF pilot Tex Ash during a visit to 411 Sqn. - 6 September 1941
Mackenzie King shakes hands with American RCAF pilot Tex Ash during a visit to 411 Squadron

Meet "The Boys"
"I wonder if I may shake hands with these men?" he said when he greeted F/L Kit Bushell, of Qu'Appelle, Sask., in charge of a group of Spitfire pilots who were lined up in front of their dispersal hut. Those he met included Pilot Officers Boyd Gartshore of Toronto; Ken Boomer of Ottawa; R. W. McNair of Prince Albert, Sask. and Sgt.-Pilots Dick Ellis, of Montreal; Bill Hagyard of Perth, Ont. and Aubrey Ferguson of Glace Bay, N.S.
Two of their mates — Ash and P/O Donald Blakeslee of Cleveland, Ohio — staged a practical scramble into their planes and Mr. King's hat was blown off by the slipstream caused by the propellers.
A squadron, led by Squadron Leader Paul Pitcher of Montreal, told Mr. King there was a scarcity of magazines and newspapers from home.
The Prime Minister was cheered as he headed towards Beaufighter squadrons, where he was greeted by F/L Bruce Hanbury of Vancouver. While Mr. King was inspecting the airmen, L.A.C. Stuart Lee, of Almonte, Ont., photographed him. Later Mr. King took pictures of the lads with Lee's camera and visited the squadron's operations room.

With Hamilton Officer
Mr. King was accompanied throughout his tour by Air Commodore Leigh Forbes Stevenson, air officer commanding the R.C.A.F. in the United Kingdom, and Group Capt. A. P. Campbell, of Hamilton, Ont., the first Canadian named to command an air station in Britain.
There was a touch of sadness when he asked of one group, "Who trained these men to their present fine efficiency?" He was told they were trained by an officer who was killed a few days ago — Wing Cmdr. N. R. Peterson, of Winnipeg.
Mr. King concluded the visit by chatting with members of a Hurricane squadron led by Squadron Ldr. Norm Johnstone, of Winnipeg. Among the men were P/O Don Ball of Edmonton and F/L "Bev" Christmas of Montreal.
The Prime Minister climbed into the cockpit of a Hurricane and P/O Bud Connell of Nipawin, Sask., showed him how to work the radio telephone. Mr. King sent greetings to the control room.


William Franklin Ash (Can. J/4737)
Home in Dallas, Texas
Enlisted in Windsor in 1940
Became a POW in 1942

Wrote "Under The Wire" about his WW2 experiences
He is making his home in England as of 2012


Britain Honors Two Fliers

London, May 17, 1946 - (CF) – F/L William Franklin Ash, 28, RCAF, Dallas, Texas, who was captured after a crash landing at Calais in 1942, today was awarded a membership in the Order of the British Empire. F/L Ash made four unsuccessful escape attempts before his liberation at the end of the war.
F/L Ash, a son of Mr, and Mrs. W. S. Ash of Dallas, enlisted in the RCAF at Windsor, Ont., in 1940. He was a graduate of the University of Texas and worked in a Dallas bank before enlisting.
P/O Vernon James Bastable, 31, RCAF, Winnipeg, captured near Rouen, France, in September 1942, was awarded the Military Cross.
P/O Bastable made three unsuccessful escape attempts from Prisoner-of-war camps before he managed to join the Czech underground, where he worked until May 1945.


St. James's Palace, S.W.I. 17 May, 1946

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following appointments to the
Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
Additional Members in the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire

Flight Lieutenant William Franklin ASH (Can /J. 4737), Royal Canadian Air Force, No. 411 Squadron

Flight Lieutenant Ash crash-landed near Calais on 24th March, 1942, and made his way to Lille where arrangements were made for him to reach Paris. He was arrested in Paris at the end of May, 1942, and imprisoned at Schubin (Oflag XXII). In September, 1942, he exchanged identities with an Army private and joined a fatigue party. He escaped from this party but was recaptured the same night.
In the spring of 1943, Flight Lieutenant Ash and 32 others escaped from Schubin through a tunnel. With a companion, he tried to reach Warsaw but was recaptured four days later.
Shortly afterwards he was transferred to Stalag Luft III, Sagan, where he was an active member of the Escape Committee for the next 21 months.
When other ranks were being transferred from Sagan to Stalag Luft VI (Heydekrug), Flight Lieutenant Ash changed his identity and accompanied them. Under his direction a tunnel was later made for a mass escape, but the tunnel was discovered when 10 prisoners had got away. Flight Lieutenant Ash nevertheless continued the attempt and eventually gained his freedom. He boarded a goods train for Kovno, but was discovered by station guards and returned to Sagan. He was liberated by Allied forces at the end of April, 1945.


Victories Include

?date?  one u/i e/a destroyed

1 / 0 / 0


BBC article

Interview with Ash on YouTube




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