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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

Chapter 3: Met in the Retreat
The Evacuations from Ambon and Namlea
Fall of Salamaua
The Singapore Expedition/ Brief Visit to Singapore
Trek across Timor/ The Retreat in Timor
Sea Escape from Tulagi
Vila and Noumea Bases
The Attacks on Darwin and Broome

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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Trek across Timor/ The Retreat in Timor (continued)

Here again fortune had set its face against the men, for although the plane arrived in due course, the pilot unfortunately missed the stranded party and no food was found. On the other hand, the party led by Fl Lt Rofe met with better luck after the 25 mile walk to Naiklioe, where a good supply of rice, six blankets and some copper sulphate were obtained. They returned to find camp had been shifted three miles north to Manwalo, where many of the men were down with fever.

Things looked black, indeed. Sometimes there were only four or five men on their feet, and the main worry was getting the fever-stricken men to eat the monotonous boiled rice that was the party's staple diet. Occasionally a stray fowl or two was brought in by the natives, but somehow they never went far among the party.

Late that month supplies were again promised by Darwin, but the bad luck of the party held. A detachment under FO Thompson was sent back to the expected spot, but for a second time missed the plane, to the great disappointment of the leader who was worrying, not for himself, but for his men. Already suffering badly from the effects of malaria and general malnutrition, FO Thompson took this failure very much to heart. His condition steadily became worse and he died on 31 March, the day before the party moved on to Toeakoes.

On 1 April the fit men of the party commenced the trek, leaving Fl Lt Rofe to follow next day with the sick, some obviously dying, on horseback or assisted by local natives. Two days later both detachments had reached their objective, where radio contact was established with Darwin, but again word came that no aircraft was available for rescue. However, another attempt was made to drop food to the men, but although the parachute was found a day and a half of intense searching failed to discover the case of food and medicines.

Two more men had died by the time news was received of a large Japanese patrol making south in their direction, and since the natives themselves cleared everything from their village, it was obvious that another move to the hill country would be necessary, despite the condition of the men. It had not long been completed when the jungle grapevine reported the Japanese headed across the island, instead of making south, so the party returned to Toeakoes on Tuesday, 14 April, when communication was again established with Darwin.

This time the news was good. A submarine rescue was to be attempted on the night of 15 April.

Word was sent to four AIF men living in a nearby village and the whole group spent Wednesday night on the beach. To their intense disappointment the submarine did not appear, but Darwin advised that it had been in on two previous occasions and would return for the rescue two nights later.

People in Bright Sparcs - Rofe, Bryan

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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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