Seymour Earl Ashleigh III, more commonly called ‘Ash’ by his friends and ‘Lieutenant Ashleigh’ by other military personnel, is one of the protagonists of ‘Operator’, Lieutenant of Holbrook Company and operator of the Rank 3 Armour ‘Grey Horseman’.
Ash is a man with dark grey hair past shoulder length, invoking the colour of his nickname, although he does not appear old enough to have naturally greying hair. On page #21, he is seen wearing a pencil skirt instead of the regulation army trousers that even the women wear. It has now been explained that this was part of a challenge made by Griff; Ash agreed to wear the skirt until the war was over. The defeat of the Operator seemed to satisfy this condition, and he has since reverted to trosers once more. In previous appearances he has also worn trousers.
Ash serves as a more intelligent foil to Captain Holbrook, and is possessed of a sarcastic sense of humour. In keeping with his long-winded name, he usually appears and talks in a more reserved or typically upper-class manner than the other characters. Ash does not share Griff’s enthusiasm for war and combat- indeed, he appears at one point to be openly contemptuous of the war when speaking privately to Griff, and plans to become a writer when the war is over. Ash takes on some of the command responsibilities that Griff doesn’t, handling administrative work, note-taking and essentially acting as his captain’s secretary.
At the beginning of the comic, Ash is visiting Griff in the military hospital. He says that he believes, without the use of his eye, Griff will be sent back to Britain as an invalid, and seems annoyed that Griff stubbornly refuses to accept this way out of a war that Ash himself has little enthusiasm for. Ash mentions, in response to Griff’s suggestion that they are both career soldiers, that he hopes to become a writer when the war is over, likely using a shortened name, his full name being too long to fit easily on the cover of most books. Despite Ash’s suspicions of Banse and Blaize and their implant, he later takes this back after witnessing the benefits 'The Eye' provides to Griff on the field of combat. Griff, however, misses this while discovering something else about The Eye, and Ash feels no need to repeat himself. Ash joins in the combat against [Hpt. Hans-Jurgen Jaeger |Hauptmann Jaeger’s]] bodyguard of ‘Bronze’ class Armours while Jaeger and Griff are in single combat, and can be seen scoring a direct hit on one German machine’s helmet. He is one of the witnesses to the Raging Griffon fusing with Jaeger’s Armour, and enters the new machine’s cockpit to wake Griff up after the energy discharges die down.
Ash has barely been seen engaging in combat, making it difficult to judge his level of skill, although his medal strip has one more coloured bar than the one other character of his rank shown, Lt. Rosalind Edlyn Grey, suggesting that he is at the very least more capable than her. Aside from this, Ash is intelligent, observant, and capable enough at writing to believe he could make a career of it after the war.
New EraEditAs in the original comics, Ash is once again the narrator of the more recent 'New Era' comics. This is made much more explicit, occasionally cutting to panels showing him working at a typewriter. In these panels, he can be seen to be sitting in some sort of study with a bookshelf and desk. Although his face hasn't been seen completely, some visible age lines imply he is writing some time after current events. He also appears to be wearing a wedding ring.
- Griff: Ash and Griff share a close friendship, the two often acting as comedic foils to each other. While they both trust each other to cover each other’s backs on the battlefield, Ash has shown concern for Griff’s well-being on other occasions, notably after he accepted 'The Eye' implant. Though Hannah has implied on one occasion that Ash is more directly attracted to Griff, little other evidence has been shown to support this, and it is likely she was just making fun of him.
- Hannah: Ash appears to be good friends with Hannah, almost to the same extent as his friendship with Griff, despite her being the captain of another company. They make fun of each other in a light-hearted fashion on several occasions, and Ash expressed concern over her drinking habits [to which he is promptly told to shut up]. Essentially, they both care about Griff and his wellbeing.
- Ash has several associations with the colour grey- the colour of his hair, his nickname, and the name of his Armour, Grey Horseman, which even seems to have a slight grey tint to it compared to other Armours. It is unclear if this has any bearing or relation to his fellow lieutenant, Lt. Grey.
- On page #21, he is seen wearing a skirt instead of normal Army trousers, and it is implied on page #22 that he is still wearing it. It has not been made clear in recent pages if he is wearing it or not. His only explanation for the skirt has been to say ‘A pinky swear is a sacred bond’, implying that he is wearing it as part of a bet or deal.
- Both Ash and Griff are clearly visible in the background of the first panel of Coga Suro 2 page #11, another comic by the same artist.
- ’Leaving aside the fact that the war would be a lot simpler if we stayed at home and dumped an Armour company in the bloody Thames every week, you’re damn lucky to be out of it, and you’ve got no choice.’