Bill Ash is one of a rare breed an American prepared to sacrifice his citizenship and risk his life to fight the Nazis at a time when the USA was still neutral. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and before long found himself in England and flying Spitfires in combat.
Then, in March 1942, Bill was shot down over the Pas de Calais. He survived the crash-landing and, thanks to the bravery of local civilians, evaded capture for months. It was in Paris that he was betrayed to the Gestapo. Tortured and sentenced to death as a spy, he was saved from the firing squad by the intervention of the Luftwaffe who sent him to the Great Escape POW camp, Stalag Luft III. It was from there that Bill - already branded a trouble-maker by his captors - began his extraordinary tour of Occupied Europe, breaking out of one camp, being dispatched to the next in Poland, Germany and Lithuania. Bill became one of only a handful of serial escape artists to attempt more than a dozen break-outs over the wire, under it in tunnels, through it with cutters or simply strolling out of the camp gates in disguise. These were years of extraordinary hardship, frustration and brutality each time he was recaptured his punishment was a long spell in solitary. He was a real-life Cooler king but through it all he maintained not just remarkable courage, but also an anarchic sense of humour, great humanity and an unstoppable desire for freedom.
From its honest, funny and exciting reflections on life in wartime Britain to the vivid, compelling, sometimes poignant recollections of his time as a POW, UNDER THE WIRE is more than just another memoir. It stands as a tribute to the bravery and resolve, not only of Bill Ash, but of an entire generation.