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William Ash MBE, (born November 30, 1917 in Dallas, Texasmarker) was a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot and Marxist.

Born into a lower middle-class family in Dallas, Texasmarker, Ash was a migrant worker during the U.S Great Depression and took a University course, doing privileged pupil's 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 unpolitical 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 to 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 Germanmarker battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, culminating in "big wing" fighter sweeps over France, on one of which, in March 1942, he was shot down and taken Prisoner of War. He escaped and was caught by the Gestapomarker and twice sentenced to death before being "rescued" by the German Luftwaffe, and shipped off to Stalag Luft IIImarker. Escaping became his prime preoccupation for the rest of the war and he was subsequently awarded the MBE for his escaping activities.

Demobolised back in England at war's end, he discovered that the act of "taking the King's shiling" in 1939 had robbed him of his U.S. citizenship and that he was now a stateless person. He became a naturalised Briton and went to Balliol College, Oxfordmarker to read for another degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, before getting himself a job in the BBC's overseas service and posted as the Corporation's official representative to the Indian sub-continent.

Returning to England some four year later, and still on the staff of the BBC's External Services, he began to take an active part in left-wing "Gutter Politics", frequently to the embarrassment of his employers. He soon found himself out of a job and at about the same time the Communist Party of Great Britain refused him membership.

Later, he was able to get work in the BBC's radio drama department as a script editor, but he never did enter the ranks of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Instead, he and others formed the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and his association with it took him to China; to Paris as a secret agent; and into close relationships with leading men and women of the Left all over the world.


  • A Red Square, The Autobiography of an Unconventional Revolutionary, 1978, William Ash, Howard Baker, London, ISBN 0-7030-0157-4
  • Under the Wire 2005, William Ash, Brendan Foley ISBN 0-593-05408-3

In addition to numerous articles in Marxist journals, William Ash is the author of the following books:

  • The Lotus in the Sky (1961) London, Hutchinson.
  • Choice of Arms (1962) London, Hutchinson.
  • The Longest Way Round (1963) London. Hutchinson.
  • Ride a Paper Tiger (1969) ©1968 New York, Walker.
  • Take-Off (1970) ©1969 New York, Walker.

  • Marxism and Moral Concepts (1964) New York, Monthly Review Press.
  • Morals and Politics : the Ethics of Revolution (1977) London; Boston, Routledge & K. Paul ISBN 0-7100-8558-3.
  • Pickaxe and Rifle : the Story of the Albanian People (1974) London; H. Baker ISBN 0-7030-0039-X
  • Workers Politics, the ethics of socialism, (2007) Coventry, Bread Books.

About William Ash's Novels.
  • Class Writer, An Introduction to the Novels of WIlliam Ash, by Doug Nicholls,(2002)Coventry, Bread Books, ISBN 0-9542112-1-9

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