Mark I Liberator ‘L’ for Leo just before they split up: back row: Ginger, Ron, Freddie, and Joe; front row: Fred, ‘Little Titch’, Norman, and Jack. Richard Colman /

By Mark McConville

THE EXPLOITS of an RAF pilot during World War Two, including hunting Nazi U-boats in the Atlantic, have been revealed in a new book.

Growing up in York, Jack Colman achieved his long-held desire to become a pilot by joining the RAF in October 1940, just after his twenty-first birthday. Sent to Canada to learn to fly, he became intrigued by the technical and practical aspects of flying and navigation. Promoted to pilot/navigator, Colman joined Costal Command on Liberators based in Iceland.

Jack training at Basic Training in Torquay, May 1941. Richard Colman /


The practical difficulties of flying over the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean protecting the convoys and hunting U-boats are relived as he battled with atrocious weather and navigational uncertainties.

Jack at Kitchener, Canada, after cross-country, August 1941. Richard Colman /


He had many brushes with death, both in training and when operational due to mechanical failure, flying into the sea, U-boat gunfire, or running out of fuel in an ever-changing hostile environment.

The personal account of this young man’s flying experiences during the Second World War is told in his son Richard Colman’s new book, Liberators over the Atlantic, published by Fonthill Media.

Harbour and the main runway (top left), Reykjavík. Richard Colman /

“Sometime in the early eighties, shortly after retiring, my father wrote a record of his war years as a pilot in the RAF,” writes Mr Colman.

“Originally entitled ‘My Friends the Stars’ this abridged version is to appeal to the wider audience and covers the period to late 1943, including selection, training in Canada, and spells with Ferry and Costal Command flying Hudsons and Liberators over the North Atlantic.

The Wings parade, 21 November 1941. Group Captain C. G. Johnson ‘pins
them on’. Richard Colman /


“His time flying Beaufighters and Mosquitos mainly in the Far East is another story. Aside from this introduction, the epilogue, endmatter, and the background historical information regarding the Battle of the Atlantic, this book is entirely the work of my father, Jack Colman.

VLR Mark IIIA Lib ‘T’, August 1943, with Snæfellsjökull in the background. Richard Colman /

“Jack was a quiet man, possibly shy, and so his account is not one of self-aggrandisement boasting exaggerated bravery, or smugness at mastering the necessary skills of flying and navigation.

A white Liberator. Richard Colman /

“It is an account of a young man learning about the adult world and falling in love and marrying while he could, a man who wanted to fly from the age of ten, who enjoyed and was fascinated by the mechanical and technical skills of flying and navigation, skills which he was conscientious in acquiring; he was aware that life might be short.”

Liberators over the Atlantic, by Jack and Richard Colman, and published by Fonthill Media is available now. RRP £25.