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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

Chapter 6: The Met. Advancing
The Coral Sea Battle—May 1942
The Battle of Milne Bay—24 August to 8 September, 1942
The Bismarck Sea Battle—1 March 1943

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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The Bismarck Sea Battle—1 March 1943 (continued)

By mid-1942 meteorological sections were being re-established at former bases as these were reclaimed by the Allies. Throughout late 1942 and during 1943,1944 and 1945 new sections were set up at places such as Milne Bay, Goodenough Island, Morotai, Labuan and other centres along the line of the advance. As the Allied frontline moved northward, the nature of the work carried out by the meteorological sections further south altered. For instance, the routine at Milne Bay, which initially had been essentially for operational strikes against the enemy esconced in other parts of New Guinea, now became more concerned with transport aircraft carrying troops and supplies to the north. Other aircraft, such as Beauforts, Beaufighters and Mitchells were continually being ferried to the war zones.

Milne Bay itself was used extensively by the Allies for shipping. American, British and Australian naval units often harboured there; US Liberty ships plied to the vast US naval supply base at Gamadodo across the water from the RAAF unit. We drew our rations from this base. Native lakatoi were usually seen in all weathers. The depth of the waters ranged from long shelving sandy shallows down to many fathoms. It was fascinating to see and catch such an amazing variety offish, notably enormous sharks. When the weather came down the bay was dangerous as squalls whipped up huge waves, particularly across stretches of five or more miles studded with small islands, treacherous reefs and niggerheads. There was a regular call for weather reports from Gamadodo, and from ships coming and going.

Whilst OIC of the meteorological section at Milne Bay, I was also amenities officer for the unit—43 Operational Base Unit. One of my tasks was to collect money from all personnel, change it into US currency, and take several blitz buggies through the jungle around the margin of the Bay to Gamadodo. There at the PX store, I would buy cases of cigarettes, tobacco and cartons of beer for the troops. Cigarettes such as Lucky Strike, Pall Mall, Camel and Chesterfield were twenty for threepence—a carton often packets for two shillings and sixpence; tobacco including Kicking Horse chew and spit variety was about two shillings a pound; beer cost twelve shillings for twenty four cans. The CO of the base, a naval captain in rank, was a likeable, friendly man. In civilian life he had been a businessman, and had been more or less conscripted to run the affairs of the vast supply base which was the largest of its kind in the South-West Pacific. I became very friendly with him and had the run of the base. Indeed, this was the typical manner in which most Australians were made welcome by their Allies from across the Pacific Ocean. The supply base carried almost everything from toothpaste to engines for Flying Fortresses, from candy bars to trucks and cars, clothing, medicines, toilet necessities, typewriters, artillery, ammunition and stationery—in fact, like Harrod's in London—'everything from a pin to an elephant'. All goods were of top quality because the US military authorities rejected anything with the slightest fault. I remember wearing a pair of US naval officers' shorts, costing ten shillings, for about ten years after the war. On one occasion, I was intrigued when I saw a US officer purchase two condoms—this in a situation where the normal use for them seemed a remote possibility. He explained that they were excellent as containers for his fountain pens, protecting them from becoming mildewed in the insidious climate.

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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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