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Table of Contents

RAAF Meteorological Service



Chapter 1: The Weather Factor in Warfare
The Weather and Chemical Warfare
Weather Control

Chapter 2: Establishing and Developing the RAAF Directorate of Met. Services (D.Met.S)

Chapter 3: Recruiting and Training of Personnel

Chapter 4: Meteorology in Aviation

Chapter 5: The Met. Retreating

Chapter 6: The Met. Advancing

Chapter 7: The Met With the Army and the Navy

Chapter 8: Divisional Offices of the Bureau of Meteorology During the War

Chapter 9: Research and Instrumental Development

Chapter 10: The End, Aftermath, and Beyond

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Appendix 3

Appendix 4



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Chapter 1: The Weather Factor in Warfare (continued)

Generally speaking, weather in warfare may always be favourable—if you know how and when to use it. In war, the weather has consistently been a vital factor in victory or defeat. It has shortened or prolonged conflicts. It has destroyed the plans and campaigns of the most brilliant military strategists; and has helped and abetted others. Those who have disregarded it have often paid dearly. Of Napoleon's mighty host of almost half a million troops, which marched on Moscow in 1813, a mere 21,000 survived the harrowing retreat through the winter snow and blizzards. Disregarding this awesome precedent, Hitler, in 1943, saw his demoralised Sixth Army decimated by the ferocity of the weather as his troops fell back from Stalingrad. It is doubtful whether the German forces ever recovered from this disaster. In both instances, the Russians used the weather—to which they were more accustomed—in guerilla fashion, to harass the retreating enemy with devastating effect. It was on the sixth of June, 1944, that the Allies in Europe finally decided that weather forecasts for Operation Overlord were favourable enough to launch the successful D-Day landings in Normandy.

The war in the Pacific area demonstrated how, on the one hand, the weather could be used as a shield for operations; and how, on the other, it could prevent or cause failure. Between 31 May and 2 June, 1942, a Japanese task force approached the Aleutian Islands under protective cloud cover and rain, associated with an eastward moving storm centre. Then they attacked Dutch Harbour in a break of relatively open weather on 3 and 4 June, and subsequently moved westward to land on Attu and Kiska on 7 June, when, as the storm moved further east, relatively favourable conditions could be expected.

Moving from Rabaul down the storm-bound north coast of New Britain, Japanese naval forces clung to the cover of darkness and adverse weather conditions, and successfully landed reinforcements of shock troops at Buna and Gona on 22 November 1942. Because of the prevailing conditions, successful interception by the Allied air forces was impossible. Later, however, the Japanese convoys were smashed during clear breaks. A United States task force moved for two days under cover of a storm while the Japanese vainly scoured the sea to find it.

The Allied landing at Rendova on 30 June 1943 was made in a blinding tropical rain storm with ceiling down to fifty feet which, for hours, prevented Japanese aircraft from locating the attacking fleet.

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Joyce, J. 1993 'The Story of the RAAF Meteorological Service', Metarch Papers, No. 5 October 1993, Bureau of Meteorology

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher