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Old 4th February 2005, 11:21
Brendan Brendan is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 5
The remarkable William Tex Ash, 24 March '42

Hi all.

I'm an author in London with a book coming out in April called Under The Wire, about an American Spitfire pilot, William 'Tex' Ash, with 411 Squadron RCAF who was shot down in the Pas de Calais but went on to a new career as a very successful POW escape artist and 'cooler king'.

Ruy tells me there might be some good folk here who could help me to establish two things - who shot him down and who, if anyone, was shot down on the Luftwaffe side in the same engagement. I would be very grateful for any help or suggestions.

William was shot down around 16.45 -17.00 on 24 March 1942 by a FW190. In the previous dogfight (returning from a sweep to Comines) he badly damaged one FW190 and remembers bits of engine cowling flying off it as it disappeared in smoke. He may have hit another before his own plane was hit and he crash-landed in a field beside the Village of Vielle Eglise from where he escaped but was later captured in Paris and became a POW. Two of his 411 colleagues were killed on the same day, but Bill was the only one who crash landed in the Pas de Calais.

I think from my limited knowledge, the most likely candidate to have shot him down is Maj Gerhard Schopfel of Stab/JG 26. Did any daily reports or combat reports survive? Bill remembers crawling back under the wreckage as one of the FWs flew low above him, presumably checking if he survived, or maybe confirming his crash-landing position.

I hope that is enough for you to go on! Thanks again for any light you can shed.

The book, by the way, is out in April, but is available to pre-order in hardback on with 30% off (Under The Wire), in case any of you want to take a look. Bill is a very interesting, unconventional hero who lost his US citizenship to join up in Canada in 1940.

All the best,

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