By James Reynolds For Allied soldiers, sailors, and airmen interned in enemy prison camps during World War II, escaping was regarded as their unwritten duty. The majority suffered great hardships—denied adequate food, clothing, medical supplies, and proper shelter—but they tried to make the best of it, watching the skies for Allied planes and patiently waiting for eventual liberation. But there were also many others who doggedly refused to accept their fate. They formed escape committees in their squalid wooden barracks, scrounged resources, and devoted their energy and ingenuity to hoodwinking their captors and devising ways to break free. Numerous tunnels were secretly and laboriously dug with whatever primitive tools they could fashion, wire fences were cut, and some prisoners managed to flee, reach neutral territory, and eventually rejoin their own forces. But many faced the heartbreak of swift recapture after weeks and months of toil. Punishment and the loss of basic privileges usually followed while their captors sought to make the camps even more secure. Brutal treatment and worsening conditions, however, could not quell hope, so the escape attempts continued. Some prisoners escaped and were recaptured numerous times. Yet they still kept trying and in so doing provided a much-needed lift to their comrades’ morale. One of the most remarkable of these heroes was William Ash, a boyish, tousle-haired fighter pilot from Texas who made no less than 13 escape attemp


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