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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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RAAF Meteorologists Under Threat of Japanese Advance (continued)

Allied morale was even further threatened by the horrendous stories of Japanese atrocities such as those on the island of Hong Kong on Christmas Day 1941, when captured troops and British and Chinese nurses were butchered (see Bergamini, 1982). While the revulsive Japanese treatment of captured military and civilian personnel is to be deplored, their military skills are to be admired. Their army was well led and fought bravely. Their naval and aerial strategies were imaginative and their use of cloud cover demonstrated an intelligent application of meteorological knowledge.

Mindful of the value of our meteorological observations to the Japanese in developing their strategy and tactics, the RAAF Meteorological Service had adopted a cipher COMETSYN for encrypting meteorological messages before transmission by radio. Much later, during a visit to Japan in 1945, I was to discover that the Japanese had 'cracked the cipher and their synoptic charts of our region were available to them in about the same time as ours were ready for analysis.

In acknowledging the military skill of the Japanese it must be remembered that they had been engaged in operations on land, at sea and in the air in Korea and China for many years. We in Australia had not had equivalent training or experience in wartime activities. Most of those who had seen action were our more experienced Army, Navy and Air Force personnel fighting in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

It is interesting to recall the audacity of the Japanese, as evidenced by the use of aircraft launched from mother-submarines. On 17 February a Japanese float plane, launched from a mother submarine, flew undetected over Sydney suburbs and harbour. Subsequently, the same mother submarine launched the float plane for flights over Melbourne, Hobart, Wellington, Auckland and Fiji. The success of this reconnaissance no doubt encouraged a later Japanese attack on Sydney Harbour and suburbs, of which more later.

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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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