OP 22 - ZAGREB EAST MARSHALLING YARDS
The target for the night of October 16/17, 1944 was the marshalling yards at Zagreb, Yugoslavia. Seventy seven aircraft of 205 Group participated, fifteen of which were Wellingtons of 37 Squadron. W/O MacIsaac and crew departed Tortorella at 1835 hours. They flew in the squadrons new Wellington "D", number LP572, carrying a payload of nine 500 pound bombs, six 250 pound bombs and six packets of nickels.
MacIsaacs aiming point photo over the marshalling yards at Zagreb. The tracks run diagonally across the center of the photo just above the flak batteries.
The weather was good with a slight ground haze and there were no clouds over the target area. Arriving over the target the aircraft were met by six searchlights supporting heavy and light caliber flak emplacements. The flak was light in concentration and not very accurate. Illumination and green target indicators were reported as being well concentrated on the target, however, no crews were able to pinpoint the exact position due to the ground haze.
All fifteen 37 Squadron aircraft attacked, dropping one 4000 pound bomb, one hundred sixty six 250 pound bombs and ninety packets of leaflets from altitudes of 5700 to 7100 feet between 2040 to 2048 hours.
MacIsaac bombed on the green TI’s at 2040 hours from 6800 feet on a heading of 035 degrees and observed his bombs burst over the west end of the marshalling yards. He reported seeing highly concentrated bombing across the target and one large explosion.
Detail of aiming point photo over Zagreb: Two 250 pound bombs are seen falling in the upper left. Rail cars can be seen in the upper right. AA guns are visible in the lower center, firing to the right. Note the many craters created during previous bombing raids.
All crews bombed on the green TI’s or on fires seen burning in the target area, and all reported bombing was very well concentrated on the target. A violent explosion took place near the TI’s followed by an orange flash – a probable hit on a gasoline storage tank. Following this explosion several fires broke out and those, together with intermittent explosions, were still visible at least 90 miles away from the target.
Detail from MacIsaacs aiming point photo over Zagreb showing the mushroom cloud from the large explosion reported by 37 Squadron crews.
Photos confirmed that bombing was well concentrated in the target area and photo reconnaissance of 10/20/44 revealed that the weight of the attack had fallen on the center of the yard and that a great number of burned out and wrecked rail cars were scattered about, chocking the through lines. Additionally, the Group sustained no losses at Zagreb, making this a very successful operation.
Unfortunately, the Group did not fare as well on the other operation detailed for this night. Six 205 Group aircraft were detailed for a supply dropping operation in Poland - two failed to return with the loss of all aircrew.
MacIsaac landed safely at Tortorella at 2241 hours.