Jonathan Mirsky

Dig for Victory

The Cooler King: The True Story of William Ash – Spitfire Pilot, POW and WWII’s Greatest Escaper

By

Atlantic Books 305pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

Bill Ash is a genuine Boy’s Own hero of whom you have probably never heard. But because Patrick Bishop writes like a dream, you are unlikely ever to forget him. Born in Texas, Ash was appalled by the rise of Nazi Germany. Long before the US entered the war, he renounced his American citizenship, travelled north to join the Royal Canadian Air Force, went to Britain and transferred to the RAF. By the time he was twenty-five he had been shot down (crash-landing in France), captured, interrogated and, in 1942, sent to Stalag Luft III, a German prison camp solely for RAF captives ninety miles southeast of Berlin. The Germans usually treated them well because they regarded the British as their social and cultural equals, unlike their Russian and Jewish captives, few of whom survived the war.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Tarantino's latest film is 'a fairy tale about Hollywood, where fantasy is an industrial product and the boulevards… ,
    • 'I don’t think we’re here on Earth to be Happy. I think we’re here on Earth to help God. I am a messianic writer'.… ,
    • 'Darley’s book is not a mad dash through this most compelling and complex of English counties. Nor is it another ti… ,
    • 'Moser’s book offers such a gripping account of a profoundly damaged human being, trapped in a cycle of repetition,… ,
    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,