“Roseland Spitfire” to fly over Parliament Hill on Canada Day

News Article / June 30, 2017

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The Roseland Spitfire will debut for all of Canada when she makes a triumphant flypast over Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, on Canada Day 2017.

By Dave O’Malley

Flight Lieutenant Arnold Walter Roseland was just 28 years old when he died in an aerial gunfight over Normandy, in France, in the summer of 1944. He had fought the Japanese in the Aleutians, and the Nazis before and after D-Day. If anyone deserved to return home to his family, it was the well-liked “Rosey”. But it was not to be. Instead he died when his parachute caught on the tail of his burning Spitfire and he was thrown to his death when the aircraft struck the ground.

Since that day, Flight Lieutenant Roseland’s remains have lain in a well-tended gravesite at Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery in Calvados, France. In those days, men who died in battle were not returned home, but were often buried in the small-town graveyards close to where they had died, and were moved to a larger site after the war. Their spirits returned to be captured in the hearts of loved ones, there to live forever in their memories.

The memory of Flight Lieutenant Roseland lived on in his wife Audrey’s heart until her death and, since then, his story has been carried like a torch by his son Ron Roseland and his children and grandchildren. Though Mr. Roseland never met his father, he had some artifacts to help him construct a bridge to him – his eyes have scanned the words that his father’s hands penned in his logbook; his hands have caressed his father’s pilot’s brevet; Flight Lieutenant Roseland’s story has coursed through his bloodstream like a ghost. But there was no actual living memory to which Mr. Roseland could attach his love. Until June 7, 2017.

On that day, Flight Lieutenant Roseland’s spirit rose into the air over his native Canada, casting a physical shadow across a country he gave his life to protect, and to preserve its freedoms. On that day, after many years and millions of dollars, Spitfire Mk IX TE294, known as the Roseland Spitfire, took to the skies for the very first time. The Roseland Spitfire is the very embodiment of that brave, fatigued young man from so long ago. It is, in fact, the embodiment of every young Spitfire pilot who went to war and never came home. That is why Vintage Wings Canada (VWC), located in Gatineau, Quebec, took on this project – to honour these courageous Canadians by building the first Spitfire ever built in Canada, and flying it in Canadian markings.

When the volunteers at the Comox Air Force Museum in British Columbia began work on TE294, they went forward under the hopeful banner, “She will fly again.” Vintech Aero and VWC have always respected this vision of the project’s founders and VWC is proud to have helped fulfill the promise they made. Since this first flight, the Roseland Spitfire has now completed six test flights, each one carefully and gradually expanding the flight envelope of the aircraft. VWC will now take TE294 through a lengthy, meticulous and methodical test process for the rest of the year to ensure she is in perfect order before she attends any distant air show or other events.

The Roseland Spitfire will, however, debut for all of Canada on Canada Day, when she is scheduled to  make a triumphant flypast over Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, to celebrate Canada’s 150th Birthday.

How’s that for a homecoming for long lost but not forgotten Flight Lieutenant Arnold Roseland?!

For more information, and photographs and a video of the second test flight of the Roseland Spitfire, visit the Vintage Wings of Canada website and click on “Ghost”. For more photographs of and information about Flight Lieutenant Arnold Walter Roseland, visit the Canadian Virtual War Memorial website. Find these related links on the right-hand side of this webpage.

This article originally appeared on the Vintage Wings of Canada website and is translated and reproduced with permission.

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