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Table of Contents

War History of the Australian Meteorological Service




Chapter 1: D.Met.S.—Australia's Wartime Weather Service

Chapter 2: The Weather Factor in Warfare
Meteorology Through History
Enemy Use of Weather Strategy
Battle of the Coral Sea
Milne Bay and Buna-Gona
The Lae and Salamaua Landings
Weather in the Allied Advance
Chemical Warfare Experiments

Chapter 3: Met in the Retreat

Chapter 4: Met in the Advance

Chapter 5: Meteorology in Aviation

Chapter 6: Central Forecasting Services

Chapter 7: Met With the Army

Chapter 8: Research and Personnel Training

Chapter 9: Instrumental Development and Maintenance

Chapter 10: Scientific Developments in the RAAF Meteorological Service

Chapter 11: Divisional Bureaux and Their Work

Appendix 1: List of Reports Provided by D.Met.S. for Advances Operational Planning and Other Purposes

Appendix 2: List of Service Personnel RAAF Meteorological Service

Appendix 3: List of Civilian Personnel Who Worked Together with Service Personnel of the RAAF Meteorological Service

Appendix 4: List of Locations at which RAAF Meteorological Service Personnel Served


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Enemy Use of Weather Strategy (continued)

The Germans and Japanese were employing the same basic method of meteorological analysis as the Allies—a system developed by the Norwegians—but in each case refinements of various types had been introduced. Germany, for the most part, was aided by the fact that the general easterly movements of weather systems in middle and north latitudes coincided with its direction of attack in the Eastern European campaigns. The same factor also gave help to Japan, whose strategy called for strikes by coordinated air and ground forces or, on occasion, by units of the three fighting services acting in unison, since efficient preparation for such thrusts necessitates full consideration of the meteorological aspect.

So far as the weather man is concerned, however, his primary task of accurately predicting meteorological conditions relates in a military offensive action almost exclusively to the period of the initial strike. As long as his information gives the commander opportunity to complete the first blow under conditions favourable to himself, the forecaster's part is truly played: he cannot foresee the duration of the action nor what military events or conditions will arise as a result of the initial blow. Thus, in the early stages of the battle of the Coral Sea, for instance, an Allied task force was able to approach the Japanese-occupied island of Tulagi in bad weather, employing the surprise element to launch an attack that cost the enemy several valuable ships, while in the main fleet air action that followed each commander made the fullest use of cloud cover to protect his vessels as far as tactical movement permitted. In the same way, careful analysis of a storm centre moving eastwards from enemy-held territory enabled Japanese meteorologists to guide a task force almost to Midway Island under conditions of concealment.

The use made of the weather factor in the struggle against Japan as the enemy invaded territories of the South-West Pacific is an absorbing story of meteorological effort, not only because it was in this wide sphere that Australian meteorologists played their part, but also because the nature of the theatre of war made it perhaps the most difficult and therefore the most absorbing from the weather man's point of view.

The South-West Pacific campaign commenced on 7 December 1941 with the simultaneous Japanese attacks against Pearl Harbour, Shanghai, Malaya, Thailand, Hong Kong and Luzon, followed by the land invasion of the Malayan Peninsula on the following day. It ended, save the sporadic clashes, with the Japanese general surrender on 15 August 1945, with the three and a half intervening years devoted to the most fantastic island hopping and widespread sea and air engagements in the world's history.

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Haldane, T. 1997 'War History of the Australian Meteorological Service in the Royal Australian Air Force April 1941 to July 1946', Metarch Papers, No. 10 October 1997, Bureau of Meteorology

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