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Table of Contents

Glimpse of the RAAF Meteorological Service




Chapter 1: Growing Up

Chapter 2: Port Moresby Before Pearl Harbour

Chapter 3: Port Moresby After Pearl Harbour
Work in the Meteorological Office
Japanese Land in Rabaul
Catalina and Hudson Operations
First Sight of the Japanese
Japanese Plans for the Invasion of Port Moresby
RAAF Meteorologists Under Threat of Japanese Advance
More Air Raids on Port Moresby
The Story of the Hudson
A Blow to Morale
More Air Raids but No 75 Squadron Kittykawks Arrive
Japanese Attempt to Invade Port Moresby by Sea
Japanese Submarines Attack Sydney
Attack on MV MacDhui
Return to Australia
The Meteorologists' Contribution

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 1941–46


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Chapter 3: Port Moresby After Pearl Harbour (continued)

In the beginning the bar of the mess had an ample supply of beer and spirits and after dinner the evenings were merry affairs. Someone had acquired a wind-up gramophone but the supply of 78 rpm records was very limited. I can still remember the tunes and some of the words of How I love the kisses of Delores, Six lessons from Madame La Conga, The great big saw came nearer and nearer to poor little Vera. The last named song was the most popular with the inhabitants of the Officers' Mess, who all joined in the following chorus:
'Oh the great big saw came nearer and nearer,
And nearer to poor little Vera.
Be my wife or you will be cut in two
Said the Villain to poor little Vera
But she said nay nay though you cut me in twain
The Angels will put me together again.
And the great big saw came nearer and nearer,
And nearer to poor little Vera.'

This record was played every night. Its repeated use made it scratchier and scratchier but it remained universally popular. All this hilarity must seem extremely frivolous to those who have never been in a similar situation. In times of stress, concerns deeply felt are often hidden by a superficial display of devil-may-care. We were all keenly conscious of the threat posed by the Japanese and eager to carry out our assigned duties to assist the war effort. Perhaps we would have been better employed in learning to use weapons and developing other skills which would have helped if the Japanese had gained a foothold in Port Moresby. I do not recall any initiative to gather us together to discuss a plan of action to deal with such a threat. Indeed, there seemed to be little interaction between the various units of the RAAF, scattered as we were with some involved in station duties, others with maintaining and arming the aircraft and others in flying them. My duties meant that I was largely confined to station headquarters.

Early in January a troopship arrived with soldiers of the 30th Australian Brigade, which included raw, young, inexperienced troops of the 39th Battalion. I was surprised one evening when I was told that there was a young soldier outside the officers' mess who wished to speak to me. He came from Epping, a suburb of Sydney, where I had once lived. He had been a member of a Sunday-school class I had taught. I imagine he may have learnt that I was in the Air Force in Port Moresby from my mother who had remarried and was living in Epping.

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Gibbs, W. J. 1995 'A Glimpse of the RAAF Meteorological Service', Metarch Papers, No. 7 March 1995, Bureau of Meteorology

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
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