OP 20 - VERONA MARSHALLING YARDS
On attacking Verona in February of 1945 Maurice Lihou commented, "I felt a little sad remembering my Shakespeare, because this city had always had a schoolboys romantic dream about it for me".
On the night of October 11/12, 1944 the marshalling yards at Verona had already been badly battered by recent attacks. They were a favorite target of the 15th Air force by day, and on the previous night 205 Group had sent 33 aircraft against the yards, losing two aircraft with all on board in the process. In spite of the extensive bombing, however, through traffic was still possible in the north-east section, which was being used for train assembly. On the 11th of October 540 rail cars, including many flatbed cars carrying armored fighting vehicles bound for the front lines, were known to be in the yards. The object of the nights attack was to destroy the rolling stock in the marshalling yards and to cut the through tracks. Sixty seven aircraft of No. 205 Group participated, fifteen of which were Wellingtons of No. 37 Squadron.
W/O James MacIsaac, back in Wellington Mk.X LN798 "D", took off for Verona at 1751 hours carrying nine 500 pound bombs and six packets of nickels.
A German 88mm flak battery firing into a stream of RAF night bombers.
The defenses at Verona were well organized and ready for the arriving bomber stream. Over 30 searchlights were operating in conjunction, forming two main cones into which the flak batteries concentrated their fire. Flak intensity was "moderate", with both heavy and light caliber flak firing into the searchlight cones.
Three 205 Group aircraft were shot down over the target by flak with the loss of all on board.
The fifteen Wellingtons of 37 Squadron attacked, dropping one 4000 pound bomb, one hundre3d twenty six 500 pound bombs and ninety packets of leaflets from 7800 to 8600 feet between 2045 and 2050 hours.
The weather was good, but the results of the bombing were generally unobserved. "Cookies" were seen to burst in the center and west of the target area and many crews reported fires - in two instances fires visible for over 70 miles. Fires were also reported in the storage buildings just south of the yards.
MacIsaac bombed on the green TI’s but was unable to observe any results. He reported seeing incendiary bombs bursting to the south and several fires in the target area. He landed safely at Tortorella at 2319 hours.
Photos taken over the target showed that bombing was fairly well concentrated on the target and the operation had achieved its objectives. The Wing "best photo" was taken by "Z" of 37 Squadron, captained by P/O Reynolds.
The following day the Group sustained a heavy blow when six of twenty Wellingtons detailed to drop supplies to the partisans in Northern Italy failed to return from a daylight operation. Five were shot down over the target area and one crashed on the return leg. 32 airmen of 205 Group were killed.