the Roseland Spitfire and Arnold Roseland RCAP pilot

"....followed the family’s movements from the US to Canada as if she was riding in the back seat of their jalopy...."

"....riveting story of turn of the century immigration to New York...."

" did an excellent job of incorporating one family's history into the larger currents of economic, social and political history...."

"....It brings back many fond memories of my war years in England and the continent...."

"....your book is certainly history told through a great story...."

"....This was a great book to read. It has all the elements of a novel...."

More Comments about the Book

This compelling story of a Canadian family is set against the backdrop of world, United States and Canadian affairs and is highlighted by two World Wars.

While on a bus tour in Norway in 1999, I overheard a fellow passenger state, "I would love to read more about this history, but I don't want to read a history book. I want to read a story."

From Sailing Ships to Spitfires is such a story, about Norway and immigration to the United States and Canada in the early 20th century.

Book by Shirley Walker
About the Author

From Sailing Ships to Spitfires

One hundred years ago, in a quest as eternal today as it was then, my grandparents emigrated from Norway to United States and then to Canada. In search of economic security, a home and a suitable society in which to raise their children, they encountered the problems common to many of the immigrants who settled this country. From their small part of Canadian history comes From Sailing Ships to Spitfires, a universal story.

The Roseland family story is woven into descriptions of the political and social circumstances they encountered when leaving Norway to establish a new home in North America, early in the last century. Quotations from their letters, dated from the late 19th century through the Second World War, give a vivid description of their experiences and of the changing society that they encountered through the era.

PROLOGUE - Synopsis

In Normandy with the RCAF - June 1944

The Supermarine Spitfire IX-Bs landed, one at a time, shrouded in dust.... Number 442 Fighter Squadron had just been deployed to Ste-Croix-sur-Mer on the Normandy coast on the morning of June 15, 1944, arriving about 0900.... Theirs would be the first complete wing to operate from France in four and a half years. Their aircraft had flown over, strafed and bombed this territory for months. It would take some days before this felt like home.

From Ste-Croix-sur-Mer, they would be over enemy territory almost immediately once in the air.

German equipment lay scattered on the ground—uniforms, rifles, helmets, gasmasks and hand grenades, soon snaffled as souvenirs. This had been the site of a German headquarters. Hugh Morse, one of Roseland’s buddies, climbed a tree in the orchard. He found blood splattered through the limbs-probably that of a sniper, they thought, buried in one of the nearby, recently dug graves. There were plenty that looked less than a week old....

They heard the artillery all day long. As soon as night came, enemy bombers and aircraft made their appearance, their target the mass of Allied shipping in the channel, which was only one mile north of their base at Ste-Croix. The noise of thousands of anti-aircraft guns in the channel, and a.... Periodically, the pilots in their tents felt the earth shake with the impact of falling bombs.

The establishment of this base in Normandy was such a momentous occasion in the turning tide of the war that BBC crews arrived to do newsreels and radio interviews for audiences in Britain and North America.

....Later that day, a "Beetle Tank" entered the airfield area—a remote-controlled small tank, about four or five feet long. The tank was filled with explosives and propelled by an electric motor. It was one of several weapons the Germans had developed secretly and used in 1944 to bolster their declining manpower resources. The Canadians were not too impressed. The engineers in the squadron proceeded to fix it up to use as a small vehicle to ride in.

Families from the local farms came over to the base to welcome the Canadian airmen, bringing gifts of fruit, flowers and wine.

. On other sorties, the Spitfires strafed moving vehicles on roadways and other targets, and dive-bombed specific targets such as bridges and railways, in order to cut off enemy supplies and reinforcements....

"We're both looking forward very much to the time when this is all over and we're back together once again - for good this next time, I hope. I have had enough travelling and adventure in the past four weeks to last one a lifetime, I'm sure. Now I am looking forward to settling down in our own little home somewhere."

Arnold was twenty-eight years old, almost the same age that his father was forty years earlier, when he wrote of a similar longing to his sister back home.