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Old 4th February 2005, 12:21
Brendan Brendan is offline
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Brendan
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 amazon.co.uk 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,

Brendan
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Old 4th February 2005, 16:05
Brendan Brendan is offline
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Brendan
Just to add that there are some pics of Bill, his Spitfire and escape colleagues at http://www.brendan.foley.btinternet....derthewire.htm
if you want to take a look.
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Old 4th February 2005, 17:22
John Beaman John Beaman is offline
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I think you may be right..

...Schopfel's claim is one of 7 Spitfires claimed that day by various units of JG 26. His is the only one that specifically mentions the Pas-de-Calais. I assume you found this information on Tony Wood's site?

As for Ash's damaged claim, this might be it as it was listed at 25% damage.

Fw190A-1 10013 VOGT, Uffz. Gerhard 48 6. 26 braune 13 + - SB+KM 24-Mar-42 WIA in Luftkampf Photographed at Moorsele in 10.41. Gen.Qu.6.Abt. (mfm #5)-Vol. 8; Caldwell, JG 26 War Diary, p.218; Caldwell, JG 26, p.57, fotos; Rodeike, Focke Wulf Jagdflugzeug, p.47, 53 fotos; S/S #19, p.9 foto near Abbeville 25%
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Old 4th February 2005, 19:55
Brendan Brendan is offline
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Brendan
Thanks very much for the reply, John. I believe there were two allied sweeps that day 24 Mar 42, one to Comines (Bill's one from Hornchurch) and one to Abbeville.

I think the only thing that would tell me for sure if the Spitfire claimed by Schopfel on that day in the Pas de Calais was Bill's is if there is some sort of surviving day report or combat report, and I imagine most of them went up in smoke during the war.

One site http://www.luftwaffe.cz/schopfel.html lists Schopfel's claim for that day as being a 411 Sqdn Spitfire, which at least narrows it down to Bill and his two unfortunate comrades (Sills and Gridley) who did not make it. The 411 Squadron operations book says that one of the others, Sills' aircraft was "was hit in the glycol tank and he broke off engagement, diving sharply. The aircraft believed to be Sills' was later seen crossing the French coast at 2000 ft... The aircraft of PO Ash was seen to be hit by fire from a FW190. Of W/O Gridley nothing is known as each flyer was fighting two enemy planes and had no time for observation."

I think Bill's claim to have hit a FW190 is fairly reliable - he's a very modest guy and says that he only became a reasonably good Spitfire pilot in the last ten minutes of his career!

I will try to find the books and references you mention. In the meantime, below are any listings I came across on the web that might be relevant - you will no doubt be able to make more sense of them than I can. The German claims for the day list seems to be headed Allied sortie 114, while Bill is listed on 116A (Comines).

Anyway, thanks very much for the help and any progress or suggestions very welcome.

Brendan


luftwaffe claims



Kanalfront: R.A.F. Circus 114 ABBEVILLE

24.03.42 Ofw. Erwin Leibold: 7 ► 3./JG 26 Spitfire £ Lille-Ypres 16.37 Film C. 2036/II Nr.94044/42

24.03.42 Hptm. Joachim Müncheberg: 64 ► Stab II./JG 26 Spitfire £ Pendé 15 km. N.W. Abbeville 16.30 Film C. 2036/II Nr.94045/42

24.03.42 Hptm. Joachim Müncheberg: 65 ► Stab II./JG 26 Spitfire £ Cambron 4 km. W. Abbeville 16.35 Film C. 2036/II Nr.94045/42

24.03.42 Gefr. Gerhard Birke: 1► 4./JG 26 Spitfire £ S. Hurt 16 km. N.W. Abbeville 16.40 Film C. 2036/II Nr.94046/2

24.03.42 Maj. Gerd Schöpfel: 37 ► Stab/JG 26 Spitfire £ Pas-de-Calais - Film C. 2036/II Anerk: Nr. -

24.03.42 Hptm. Johannes Seifert: 26 ► Stab I./JG 26 Spitfire £ 12 km. W Boulogne 17.10 Film C. 2036/II Nr.94043/42

24.03.42 Ofw. Werner Gerhardt: 9 ► 5./JG 26 Spitfire £ Somme Estuary 16.38 Film C. 2036/II Nr.94045/42



luftwaffe casualties


3/24/42 Rosenblath, Georg Lt. KIA 4 Cambron Spitfire


0110 010 SB + KJ .41 6./J.G. 26 'Brown 5 + -' Crashed after combat in the Le Treport area 24.03.42, pilot and Staffelkapitän Oblt. Otto Behrens wounded Caldwell, JG 26
0110 011 SB + KK .41 4./J.G. 26 Crashed after combat 24.03.42 at Cambron, 100%, F, pilot Lt. Georg Rosenblath killed Caldwell, JG 26
0110 012 SB + KL .41 To Auxerre repair facility 15.04.43, out 13.11.43 NA AIR 40/1887
0110 013 SB + KM .41 6./J.G. 26 'Brown 3 + -'
'Brown 13 + -' Crashed at Fl.Pl. Abbeville after combat 24.03.42, 25%, F, pilot Uffz. Gerhard Vogt wounded

Allied reports:
24. March 1942

RAF 2 Group: Circus 116A

Power-Stn. COMINES

14.36: 12 Boston III

Escort Wing: Hornchurch

RAF 11 Gp. 64 Sqn. 12 Spitfire Vb 14.42-16.15 Circus 116A 0 - 0 - 0 n/a 2 Cat.B Fighters L-BS: Comines



Cat.B 24.03.42 Pilot: ok 11 Group 64 Sqn. Spitfire Vb: SH- Battle-damage

Cat.B 24.03.42 Pilot: ok 11 Group 64 Sqn. Spitfire Vb: SH- Battle-damage



RAF 11 Gp. 411 Sqn. 10 Spitfire Vb 14.36-16.20 Circus 116A 0 - 0 - 2 FW 190 3 Cat.Em Fighters L-BS: Comines



Cat.Em 24.03.42 P/O J.W. Sills: kia 11 Group 411 Sqn. Spitfire Vb: W3215 FW 190s: Bailleul

Cat.Em 24.03.42 P/O W.F. Ash: p/w 11 Group 411 Sqn. Spitfire Vb: AB281 FW 190s: Bailleul

Cat.Em 24.03.42 F/Sgt. R.H. Gridley: kia 11 Group 411 Sqn. Spitfire Vb: AB268 FW 190s: Bailleul

Cat.A 24.03.42 Sgt. Taylor: wia 11 Group 411 Sqn. Spitfire Vb: AB183 FW 190s: Bailleul



Claim 24.03.42 Pilot 11 Group 411 Sqn. 0 - 0 - 1 FW 190 15.50 ca: Bailleul

Claim 24.03.42 Pilot 11 Group 411 Sqn. 0 - 0 - 1 FW 190 15.50 ca: Bailleul



Escort-Cover Wing: North Weald

RAF 11 Gp. 403 Sqn. 12 Spitfire Vb 14.25-16.40 Circus 116A 1 - 0 - 0 FW 190 No casualty L-BS: Comines



Claim 24.03.42 Pilot 11 Group 403 Sqn. 1 - 0 - 0 FW 190 15.50 ca: Comines-Calais



RAF 11 Gp. 121 Sqn. 12 Spitfire Vb 14.25-16.40 Circus 116A 0 - 1 - 0 FW 190 1 Cat.B Fighter L-BS: Comines



Cat.B 24.03.42 Pilot: ok 11 Group 121 Sqn. Spitfire Vb: AV- Battle-damage



Claim 24.03.42 P/O R. Tilley 11 Group 121 Sqn. 0 - 1 - 0 FW 190 15.50 ca: Comines-Calais



High-Cover Wing: Kenley

RAF 11 Gp. 602 Sqn. 11 Spitfire Vb 14.42-16.15 Circus 116A 0 - 0 - 1 FW 190 No casualty L-BS: Comines



Claim 24.03.42 F/Lt J.H. Lacey 11 Group 602 Sqn. 0 - 0 - 1 FW 190 15.50 ca: Gravelines-Dover



Summary for Circus 116A at 14.36 RV on 24th March 1942 Power-station Comines. Fighters taking part: 8 squadrons, 97 sorties, 1-1-3 claimed for 3 lost. Bombers taking part: 12 Bostons of RAF 2 Group. Ref: RAF/FC Summary of Sorties (Air 16/1307)

The other circus of the day was the one to Abbeville:

RAF 2 Group: Circus 116B

Rail-yards ABBEVILLE

14.55 rv: 6 Boston III

Escort Wing: Digby

RAF 12 Gp. 412 Sqn. 11 Spitfire Vb 14.50-16.18 Circus 116B 0 - 0 - 0 n/a 2 Cat.Em Fighter L-BS: Abbeville



Cat.Em 24.03.42 S/Ldr. J.D. Morrison: kia 12 Group 412 Sqn. Spitfire Vb: BL471 FW 190s: Abbeville

Cat.Em 24.03.42 F/Lt. A.T.A. Young: p/w 12 Group 412 Sqn. Spitfire Vb: VZ - FW 190s: Abbeville



RAF 12 Gp. 19 Sqn. 12 Spitfire Vb 14.50-16.16 Circus 116B 0 - 0 - 0 n/a 2 Cat.Em Fighter L-BS: Abbeville



Cat.Em 24.03.42 Sgt. W.H. Mills: mia-e 12 Group 19 Sqn. Spitfire Vb: AD551 FW 190s: Abbeville

Cat.Em 24.03.42 Sgt. B. Netocil: p/w 12 Group 19 Sqn. Spitfire Vb: AD307 FW 190s: Abbeville



High-Cover Wing: Tangmere

RAF 11 Gp. 129 Sqn. 12 Spitfire Vb 14.30-16.15 Circus 116B 1 - 0 - 0 FW 190 No casualty L-BS: Abbeville



Claim 24.03.42 F/Lt. H.T. Armstrong 11 Group 129 Sqn. 1 - 0 - 0 FW 190 15.30 ca: Somme Estuary



Summary for Circus 116B at 14.55 RV on 24th March 1942 rail-yards Abbeville. Fighters taking part: 8 squadrons, 96 sorties, 1-0-0 claimed for 4 lost. Bombers taking part: 6 Bostons of RAF 2 Group. Ref: RAF/FC Summary of Sorties (Air 16/1307)
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