||Federation and Meteorology
Table of Contents
Glimpse of the RAAF Meteorological Service
Chapter 1: Growing Up
Chapter 2: Port Moresby Before Pearl Harbour
Sydney to Port Moresby by DH-86
First Impressions of Port Moresby
Meteorological Office Routine
Flight to Kokoda
John (Doc) Hogan
Setting up House
We Join the RAAF
A Contrast in Attitudes
Some RAAF History
RAAF No 10 Squadron
RAAF No 11 Squadron
The Catalina Story
Construction of the Seven-mile Airstrip and Reclamation Area
Meteorological Service for the RAAF
Our State of Readiness
Our Domestic Situation
A Japanese Surprise Packet
What Had We Meteorologists Achieved?
Chapter 3: Port Moresby After Pearl Harbour
Chapter 4: Allied Air Force HQ and RAAF Command, Brisbane
Chapter 5: Japan Surrenders and We Are Demobilised
Appendix 1: References
Appendix 2: Milestones
Appendix 3: Papers Published in Tropical Weather Research Bulletins
Appendix 4: Radiosonde Observations 194146
A Contrast in AttitudesIt is interesting to recall the contrast in the attitudes of the Japanese and the Australians, British, Dutch and Portuguese in our part of the world in 1941. In Port Moresby, and in most of Australia, the general population was largely unaffected by the war although those in uniform who had sailed for England or the Middle East, and their families, were aware of the likelihood that they may soon be involved in a shooting war. Although we had vague notions of a Japanese threat to our security in Port Moresby early in 1941 and although Keith and I were in uniform, my situation produced a feeling of domestic bliss.
At that time, in the first half of 1941, when most Australians were living a relaxed and relatively trouble-free existence, the Japanese high command had decided that they should invade south-east Asia later in the year, attacking the Philippines and dealing with the US Fleet when it sailed to defend that country.
Japanese military ambitions dated from 1904 when Japan had occupied Korea. Japan attacked Shanghai in 1932 and, although not formally declaring war on China until 1937, had continued to infiltrate the country in the interim.
The Japanese were the realists of the 20th century while we Australians, like many others of Anglo-Saxon, Dutch and Portuguese descent resident in the tropics, were living in the 19th century Victorian dream of the invincibility of the British Empire. Now, 50 years later, it is interesting to recall our attitude to the Japanese. There were some who saw them as a threat but many dismissed these forebodings by asserting that the Japanese had little innovative ability, defective eyesight and primitive military equipment.
We were woefully ignorant of their efficient if barbaric invasion of China and did not know that their Emperor Hirohito and his military chiefs had long planned for what they regarded as the inevitable conflict with the USA. As recounted by David Bergamini (1972), in the early 1930s Japan had developed a highly efficient air force whose precision bombing was a feature of their surprise attack on Pearl Harbour. These same air force units gave a similar demonstration of their precision and efficiency at Rabaul, Port Moresby, Darwin and in Malaya. We were living in a fools' paradise, blissfully ignorant of our unpreparedness, both in deployment of defence resources and equipment and in the number of highly trained aircrew available for war in the Pacific (see Douglas Gillison, 1962). Even the signing of a 10 year military, political and economic non-aggression pact by Japan, Germany and Italy on 27 September 1940 made little impact on the Australian population. Gillison (1962) notes that the program for the construction of RAAF bases at Darwin, Townsville and Port Moresby was much behind schedule at this time. The non-aggression pact between Germany, Italy and Japan did not dissuade the Australian War Cabinet from giving the highest priority to the deployment of our forces to the European, North African and Middle East theatres of war.
© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
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