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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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A Blow to Morale (continued)

If air-raids occurred when both Gordon and I were off duty, he persuaded me to take the chess board outside to a vantage point where we could observe the progress of the raid. I can recall keeping one eye for the chess board and one for Japanese aircraft. Bombing raids were rarely directed at the Konedobu area, being concentrated on shipping in the harbour and on the Seven-mile airstrip. Usually air-raid sirens gave ample warning of the approach of Japanese aircraft although I distinctly remember one occasion when crossing a large grassy oval en route to the headquarters building I saw a large formation of bombers approaching on a line directed towards the oval. This formation had obviously not been detected by the early warning system. No shelter was in sight and, remembering the experience of the bombing of our office on the reclamation area, I decided to quicken my step. Luckily Konedobu was not the target that day. This was the only occasion that I can remember an air-raid occurring without prior warning.

By 8 March 1942 we had experienced eight bombing raids; on the Port Moresby wharf, shipping in the harbour or the Seven-mile airstrip. The Japanese had occupied Salamaua and Lae and were just across the Owen Stanley Range no more than 280km away. Port Moresby's defences were pitifully few. We had a battery of 3.7 antiaircraft guns and the 30th Brigade of Australian Militia. At this time the Australian Chiefs of Staff had assessed the air defence of Port Moresby as requiring two flying boat reconnaissance squadrons, four fighter squadrons, one torpedo bomber squadron, two heavy bomber squadrons and two transport squadrons. Some aircraft were staging through the Seven-mile airstrip but at this time the Hudsons and Catalinas were conducting their operations from bases on the Queensland coast.

The fact that our food was coming out of tins and that we had just endured the debilitating wet season and were in the even more oppressive climate doldrums was not good for morale. We did not know that on 11 March General Douglas MacArthur and his party were escaping from Corregidor in two torpedo boats. The story of that epic journey and MacArthur's role in the war in the Pacific, as told by William Manchester (1978), should be read by every Australian as there is no doubt that MacArthur, despite his arrogance and egotism, was one of the war's outstanding generals and after his appointment as Commander in Chief, Allied Forces South-west Pacific on 18 April 1942, brought new life and optimism to the Allied efforts in the South-west Pacific.

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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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