||Federation and Meteorology
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
Sea Escape from Tulagi (continued)Time was precious as the vessel had to get away and be under cover again before daylight, so all speed was made for Guadalcanal, where the Balus was anchored close to shore in a small inlet. Fortunately, it rained all the next day, thereby reducing the risk of observation from the air, and that night the RAAF men pushed on for the mission station on the southern tip of the island, where they were joined by the AIF members from Gavutu, who had made the journey in small boats. On the following night the schooner, packed to the limit because of the 30 soldiers taken aboard, stood out for San Christobal, but engine trouble developed and reduced speed to about half, so that daylight found the Balus several miles from its objective and under a cloudless sky. Prayers went up from everyone aboard that no enemy planes would appear, but they were in vain. Before long a Japanese flying boat appeared, passing the schooner at 1000 feet, but for some unknown reason withholding attack. Probably the decrepit state of the vessel, combined with the fact that only the natives were in sight, convinced the enemy pilot that it was only an island trading schooner, but whatever the reason the Balus reached San Christobal safely. Once there it was decided not to camouflage the ship, for to do so would have invited suspicion in view of the earlier encounter, and when two Zero float planes approached later to inspect the schooner from about 100 feet all the white men were safely hidden ashore.
So far so good, but the major troubles began after clearing San Christobal since there was no map aboard the Balus and no means of navigating other than a compass. It was decided to run for the middle of the New Hebrides, hoping that there would not be too much drift either to north or south, and for several days the small vessel bobbed about in the Pacific with her navigators completely at a loss to know where they were. The trade winds were fairly howling and the open sea was far too rough for the poor old Balus which did everything but sink. Water poured over the low sides of the schooner, which was making very little headway, and almost everyone aboard was seasick, making the crowded conditions almost unbearable.
One of the few not affected by the motion of the ship was Sgt Hore, whose knowledge of meteorology stood the men in good stead, Sgt Hore reasoned that large Cumulus cloud would not develop over the sea during the day in the south-easterly stream, except in frontal zones, but would build up in daylight hours over the land. Thus, when the captain conjectured that the New Hebrides must be close at hand despite adverse winds and seas he offered to climb as high as possible in the schooner about 10 o'clock in the morning to search the horizon for land. Sure enough, away to the east he discerned the unmistakable cumuliform tops over the stratocumulus over the sea.
Course was changed and before long a mountain range came into view. Spirits rose rapidly, even among the seasick men, and eventually the Balus reached the land, which proved to be the west coast of the island of Espiritu Santo. The cumulus cloud first observed by Sgt Hore probably had developed on the windward side of the mountain range on the island.
From this stage onward the trip was uneventful. The Balus proceeded by easy stages through the New Hebrides to Vila, where Sgt Hore was warmly welcomed by the two Australian weather men stationed thereFO (later Sqn Ldr) B. Mason and Sgt (later FO) G. R. Martin.
© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
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