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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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Chemical Warfare Experiments

In World War I some of the most important work done by meteorologists on the Allied and enemy sides lay in the prediction of weather suitable for gas attacks. For instance, on the evening before the battle of Loos, the wind was south-east in Flanders, but it changed to south-west during the night, as predicted by the meteorological officer attached to the advanced headquarters of Sir Douglas (afterwards Lord) Haig, and on the following morning success crowned the first use of gas by the British.

Gas was never employed by either side in World War II—although Japan was accused of having done so on several occasions in China—but our forces were prepared to reciprocate immediately if the Axis powers had initiated this form of chemical attack in any of the theatres of war. That meant readiness of equipment and supplies, together with experience in handling gas under various conditions of atmosphere and terrain, so that a great deal of experimental work became necessary in the new battle region of the Pacific. Australia contributed to this by establishing two field experimental stations in Queensland—at Proserpine and Innisfail—under the control of the Chemical Defence Board, Ministry of Munitions. There, under conditions of climate and terrain approximating to operational theatres in the South-West Pacific area, a research programme in offensive and defensive aspects of chemical warfare was carried out. Specially trained RAAF meteorological personnel assisted in the task. These were given a basic chemical warfare course in addition to their normal meteorological training, after which they were posted to either of the experimental stations to assist the forecasting and research officers also provided by the Directorate.

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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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