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Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology


Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology 1929–1946 by Allan Cornish

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

Four Years in the RAAF Meteorological Service by Keith Swan
Enlistment in the RAAF, July 1941
Meteorological Observer Training, January-April 1942
Meteorological Observer, May-December 1942
Learning to Forecast, January-July 1943
Forecasting in Victoria, July-October 1943
Tropical Forecasting in New Guinea, October 1943-February 1945
Temperate East Coast Forecasting, February 1945-January 1946
Evaluating the Service

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


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Evaluating the Service (continued)

Because we all spent several months at the Melbourne Weather Bureau, headquarters of the national meteorological service, we became members of an identifiable family. If not every individual forecaster knew every one of his colleagues, he at least knew almost every one of them by name, and had heard of some of their idiosyncrasies. I never met Flying Officer Wilfred Greenfield, but I still feel that I know him. One day in 1943 at Essendon a civil pilot asked me did I know 'Greenie' , as he was called, and laughed about the fact that that morning, while he was waiting in Mascot office for his forecast, Greenie interrupted his writing to answer a knock on a flimsy partition wall and gave his move in a chess game that was going on. My answer to the pilot was something like this: 'Did you know that some years ago Greenie, blindfold, played 28 chess games simultaneously at Maitland Show?'. Not long afterward my dentist brother and Greenfield, serving on the same RAAF station, went one Sunday to the local Presbyterian Church. The minister, after being introduced, politely asked Greenfield had he enjoyed the choir, to which the response was 'they wear nice hats!'.

Because we were like a family it was not difficult to express a preference about posting. When I was leaving Lowood in June 1945, I was originally posted to Sussex Inlet on Jervis Bay, and Frank Henderson was to have proceeded to Williamtown. His family home was near Nowra, while mine was near Newcastle, so we made a joint informal approach to the Director, who reversed the postings to our great delight. This kind of consideration was a considerable personal privilege, and it helped rather than hindered efficiency.

Just occasionally one was frustrated by what appeared to be parochialism. At one office in a forward area we were hampered in pilot balloon observations by two unserviceable stop watches essential for timing the ascent of the balloon at its assumed fixed rate. After some investigation I found that I could get replacement watches from the equipment store of a repair and salvage unit, provided I left the unserviceable items there. I readily did that, only to be told by my officer-in-charge that I must get back the watch which had engraved on its back 'Commonwealth Weather Bureau'. As an effective scrounger, I had thought we were in the first place members of the RAAF weather service, and not of some extraneous group within the RAAF. Although there was such an occasional frustration, we got by because we were a family.

People in Bright Sparcs - McRae, John Neil; Swan, Keith

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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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