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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)

Taking advantage of the size of Australia, air bases were established well inland at such places as Corunna Downs, a cattle station near Marble Bar (WA). Here, and at similar places, Allied Liberators could operate long range to Java without the risk of their bases being exposed to Japanese attack, because of the long distances involved. Again the weather factor operated. Flight-Lieutenant Bob Birtwistle described how an American C47 took off and crashed into the Darling Ranges about five miles from the base. He ascribed this accident 'to a thin raised fog', adding that 'fortunately all details of this and of the winds which I had given in the forecast for the flight were spot on!'[9]

The weather was well-known as a killer on its own initiative. In the Sydney newspaper The Sun' of 26 April 1972 the following headlines appeared:

Anzac Week: Special Historical Feature


Not all of Australia's Great Servicemen Died in Battle

The story was recounted to the newspaper by the Met. officer involved—Flying-Officer Eric Craig of Sydney. He told graphically of how, on 5 March 1945 Major-General G. A. Vasey, CB, OBS, DSO, one of Australia's greatest soldiers, perished when his aircraft crashed into the sea off Cairns. With him, as well as nine other occupants of the plane, died Major-General R. M. Downes, GMG, ED. Despite Craig's warnings about the situation, and that conditions were deteriorating, the RAAF Hudson took off from Townsville in the afternoon of the fateful day.

The cause of the crash was a cyclone which, at the time, was ravaging the Queensland coast. The area around Cairns and Hinchinbrook Island was notorious for its shocking flying conditions in bad weather. Many aircraft have come to grief there.

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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