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Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology


Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology 1929–1946 by Allan Cornish
Chapter 1: My Early Days in the Bureau
Chapter 2: Some New Vistas
Chapter 3: The RAAF Measures Upper Air Temperatures
Chapter 4: The Bureau Begins to Grow
Chapter 5: My Voyage in Discovery II
Chapter 6: The Birth of the Instrument Section
Chapter 7: Darwin Days
Chapter 8: I Leave the Bureau

History of Major Meteorological Installation in Australia from 1945 to 1981 by Reg Stout

Four Years in the RAAF Meteorological Service by Keith Swan

The Bureau of Meteorology in Papua New Guinea in the 1950s by Col Glendinning


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Chapter 6: The Birth of the Instrument Section (continued)

The RAAF Meteorological Service needed staff for instrument maintenance. Other parts of the RAAF were having trouble with their navigation equipment. Geoff Marshall of the RAAF proposed that we could take over certain aspects of their maintenance.

We had acquired Standard instruments by this stage. I had been to the National Standards Laboratory and sorted a few things out there. We didn't manufacture instruments at that time but we had dozens of barometer frames in which the glass tubes had been broken. So we procured an accurate drawing of a barometer tube and arranged for Roly Mann (the glass blower at Selby's, who had a supply of pyrex tubing) to make dozens of empty tubes for us. These tubes were made to precise dimensions. We refilled the tubes with mercury and reinstalled them in their frames. With a great deal of effort we satisfied the demand for barometers which had grown considerably.

We set up our own mercury still, and soon had it running. We developed a technique to satisfactorily fill the barometers with mercury. We had a German Fuess Standard barometer with which we calibrated the barometers we had filled.

This was when Geoff Marshall suggested that we become an Air Force repair depot. Geoff was a test pilot with a university degree in mechanical engineering. He was running the Instrument Section inside the Division of Technical Services, Department of Air.

Geoff suggested that if our section became a repair depot he could assist in obtaining equipment. I don't think Warren was fully aware of the situation which was developing. When our section was recognised as part of the official repair depot of the Air Force our work started to grow.

The Air Force hired two floors at Shepherd House in Flinders Lane and equipped it. They also provided about 30 air force personnel who had the RAAF mustering of Instrument Maker which was not a meteorological mustering. This upset the apple-cart somewhat because these RAAF personnel wanted their four days a quarter leave as part of an Air Force establishment.

I could buy almost anything for the RAAF Meteorological Service by writing a minute to the equipment officer telling him we wanted certain items. He bought them and I acquired them for the RAAF Meteorological Service. These transactions did not appear in the RAAF Meteorological Service records.

People in Bright Sparcs - Cornish, Allan William; Warren, Herbert Norman

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Cornish, A., Stout, R., Swan, K and Glendinning, C. 1996 'Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology', Metarch Papers, No. 8 February 1996, Bureau of Meteorology

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