OP 34 - OPERATION "PIRATE"
Operation "Pirate" was a daylight supply dropping mission for the Partisans in northern Italy, who were to mark the drop point with an "L" of white strips. The operation took place on November 12, 1944.
MacIsaac took off from Tortorella at 0826 hours in Wellington Mk.X LP572 "D" carrying four "N" type containers and ten packets of nickels. P/O J. Harris was added to the crew as front gunner. ETA over the drop point was about two and one half hours.
The weather was clear to the target area, at which time crews encountered ten-tenths cloud at 10,000 feet. Ten Wellingtons of 37 Squadron operated but two returned early. One was forced to return when the crew experienced hydraulic failure in the rear turret. The second reported that it was unable to break through cloud cover and so returned to base.
Opposition consisted of moderate, heavy caliber flak from the battle area, but all crews made it through this obstacle unscathed.
Of the remaining eight aircraft, seven were able to identify the ground signal. MacIsaac was unable to locate the signal, and so he did a dead-reckoning run over the area and dropped his containers at the end of this run. Two of his containers hung up in the bomb bay and were brought back to base. In total, the Squadron dropped 36 containers between 1105 and 1131 hours from altitudes of 8600 to 11000 feet. Hang-ups were a major problem on this operation, with a total of 10 containers failing to release and being brought back to base.
MacIsaac and crew landed safely at Tortorella at 1342 hours.
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From the No. 37 Squadron ORB...
November 12, 1944:
Medical - No. 5 Blood Transfusion Unit continued their blood grouping of Squadron and Wing personnel at the Wing Sick Quarters.
Sport - The Squadron lst Xl football team drew 1 - 1 with No. 353 M.U. in the 205 Group Football League.
Accommodation - During the night a Tent Double Ridge burnt out with the loss of the occupants kit.
November 14, 1944:
The aircraft missing on 10th November was found - crashed into the Gargans hills near SAN MARCO. The bodies of the crew were taken to No. 336 Wing Sick Quarters - later collected and coffined for burial.
November 15, 1944:
Training Flying - Whilst on an air test A/c LN.789 piloted by Sgt. Duncan became uncontrollable on approaching too hard and crashed near the dispersals. The bomb aimer walked out of the flaming wreckage and the rear gunner finding himself trapped in his turret fought his way through the clear vision panel until he was about half way out of the A/c. At this stage he became trapped and went unconscious, but he was rescued by two airmen who were on the scene very quickly.
Funeral - The funeral took place at Bari Cemetery of W/O Pike and crew who crashed on November 11th.
Administration - F/O Cave assumed duties of Squadron Fire Officer.
Visits - Air Chief Marshall Sir Edgar LUDLOW HEWITT C.B.E., K.C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., M.C., Inspector General of the R.A.F. visited the Squadron during the afternoon.