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Table of Contents

RAAF Meteorological Service



Chapter 1: The Weather Factor in Warfare

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
Papua New Guinea and New Britain
The Netherlands East Indies and Malaya
Escape from Timor
Northern Australia—1942

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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Escape from Timor (continued)

One by one the men died. Food was short; and the never-ending fear that the enemy may be just around the next corner plagued the desperate fugitives. 'It was George who saved us', said Bryan Rofe. The Japanese called upon us to surrender, delivering a note via a village chief on 16 April 1942. The note read:
To the Australian and Dutch officers and soldiers: The war is over. Netherland East Indies fell into our hands in succession on 9 March. All allied forces surrendered to us without any condition. On Timor Island about 1,100 Australian and Dutch soldiers did the same. They are enjoying life and waiting for you to be supplied with bread, meat and fresh vegetables. Your movements and present location are being supplied to us through rajahs (natives). If you continue fighting against us, there's no way but to conquer you, so come to us with this information and wait for the return of peace with your friends—Japanese Army, 14 March 1942.'[55]

'Of course there was no thought of surrender' narrated Rofe. 'But George came 30 miles to tell us that the Japs were after us, and that he had told them that we had moved inland, sending them off the trail.'

A RAAF pilot who tried to get help to the stranded personnel was Flight-Lieutenant H. O. Cook, who had done many operational flights from Darwin. Before the war, Cook had been Guinea Airway's chief pilot, and he knew the region well. It was considered by the RAAF too hazardous to land a plane, but Cook was given permission to reconnoitre. During one of his trips, with Pilot-Officer V. Leithhead as co-pilot, Cook's aircraft was attacked by three Zeros. Leithhead acting as gunner downed one, but the others destroyed the port engine of the Australian plane. Then a bullet struck Cook's left arm, and another burst badly wounded Leithhead, the wireless sergeant, and the sergeant air-gunner. Cook did not give up. He made a forced landing in the sea—a most difficult feat in a Hudson aircraft. With the wounded in a rubber dinghy he paddled to the shore, where friendly natives came to his aid. The two sergeants were beyond help. Cook bound Leithhead's wound and then his own arm. Taking what supplies they could they set off to find the lost party. Leithhead told Peter Batten, war correspondent with the Western Australian newspaper, Mirror, that it was a nightmare trip. He wanted to give in, but Cook wouldn't let him and bullied him on. Their flying boots were soon cut to ribbons by the rough tracks. They kept on walking through the night till well after dawn, then they would sink exhausted and sleep until night. At the end of the second day they saw some natives who began making signs and walking ahead towards the beach.[56] Rofe was amazed to see his old friend, H. O. Cook, and a companion staggering towards his RAAF party.

People in Bright Sparcs - Rofe, Bryan

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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
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