William Ash MBE, (born November 30, 1917 in Dallas, Texas) was a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot, writer, and Marxist.
Born into a lower middle-class family in Dallas, Texas, Ash was a migrant worker during the U.S Great Depression and took a University course, doing privileged pupils' essays in order to gain money and also for his personal development as an author. It was around this time when the Spanish Civil War broke out, and the largely apolitical Ash, driven by a hatred of bullies and fascism, decided that if the war was still going when he was old enough to fight (aged 21), he would join the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
In 1939, he left for Canada and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and passed out as a fighter pilot, reaching the UK shortly after the end of the Battle of Britain. He flew Spitfires in World War II on many defensive and offensive missions, including an attack on the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, culminating in "big wing" fighter sweeps over France, on one of which, in March 1942, he was shot down and was caught by the Gestapo, twice being sentenced to death before being "rescued" by the German Luftwaffe, and shipped off to Stalag Luft III. He