OP 7 - SZONY OIL REFINERY
Prior to this operation, on the night of August 20/21, 1944, No. 37 Squadron suffered another loss. While on return from an attack at the Hermann Goering Nibelungen Werke at St. Valentine, Wellington LP617 "N" captained by Sgt. J. H. Lindley, apparently got off track and became lost. He landed at Naples, took off again immediately and crashed into a hill en route. All members of the crew were killed. They were:
Sgt. John Hubert Lindley, RAF - pilot, age 20
Sgt. Leonard James Fisher, RAF - navigator, age 21
Sgt. Ernest Thomas Goodrum, RAF - wireless operator, age 22
Sgt. Brian Philip Caley, RAF - air bomber, age 20
Sgt. Alfred Peter Kuster, RAF - air gunner, age 21
It was their second operation. They are buried at the CWGC Naples War Cemetery. This operation was a costly one for 205 Group: a total of five aircraft were lost to enemy action and two more crashed returning from the target.
* * *
The Szony Oil Refinery in Hungary was a small but modern and important refinery on the Danube about 45 miles west north-west of Budapest. The refinery was heavily damaged by the 15th Air Force but not vitally - it was still capable, after having been repaired, of refining 5000 tons per month. It was, therefore, targeted by 205 Group on the night of August 21/22, 1944.
USAAF aiming point photograph taken during a daylight raid on the refinery at Szony, Hungary.
MacIsaac lifted off from Tortorella 1958 hours in Wellington Mk.X LN798 "D" carrying nine 500 pound bombs. ETA to Szony was approximately three hours. A total of 12 Wellingtons of 37 Squadron were detailed and all operated.
Flack in the target area was moderate to intense. Self destroying (at 7000 to 8000 feet) tracer fire was encountered at Gyor, and intense tracer fire, some of it heavy caliber, was experienced in the general area north of Lake Balaton. Night fighter flares were seen from south of Gyor to the target and again out from the target to the south of Lake Balaton and, in one instance, as far as the Zagreb area. Crews reported that in various cases fighter flares were cooperating with flak in the Balaton area.
All twelve aircraft attacked the target, dropping two 4000 pound bombs, ninety 500 pound bombs, and 84 packets of nickels between 2235 and 2259 hours from altitudes of 7000 to 8100 feet. MacIsaac bombed on the red TI’s from an altitude of 7500 feet on a heading of 70 degrees at 2256 hours. Bursts immediately north of the distillation plant were observed followed by fire and smoke. Two other fires in the north part of the target area were also seen.
Plotting of all photos showed a good concentration on the TI’s and that these were accurately placed. All crews obtained excellent photos, all of which were showed bombing was on the target or very close. F/Sgt. Sheil’s photo was chosen as the Wing "best photo" of the operation. Subsequent photo reconnaissance revealed heavy damage to the refinery as a result of the nights raid.
On the way back to base, Wellingtons "G" captained by Sgt. Malcom-Jones, "R" captained by Lt. Westlake, and "S captained by F/Sgt. Pike, all successfully evaded attacks by unknown enemy night-fighters. Wellington "Q" captained by F/Sgt. Sheil was followed for twenty minutes by two twin engined enemy aircraft, possibly Me-110’s, one of which fired a burst of tracer at 800 yards while the other was dropping a succession of fighter flares - they were finally evaded.
Three 205 Group aircraft were seen to go down in flames over the target area with the loss of all crew on board.
F/Sgt. MacIsaac and crew landed safely at Tortorella at 0158 hours.