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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

Chapter 4: Met in the Advance

Chapter 5: Meteorology in Aviation

Chapter 6: Central Forecasting Services
General Reorganisation for War
Security and Censorship
Code and Cipher Development
National Synoptic Broadcasts
Services to Armed Forces
Services to Private Industry

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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Code and Cipher Development (continued)

It was decided to use four separate types of cipher in the Australian synoptic weather service. First of these was ACD 032—ANDUSYN—which was reserved for the synoptic services required for overseas broadcasts and for fleet purposes: Secondly, a general cipher entitled COMETSYN on the lines of ANDUSYN for the internal regional collective services: Thirdly, a separate individual recoding table, on the one time pad principle, issued to each remote station reporting by W/T. A daily changing card cipher was designed for ground to air communication with aircraft—ANDUSMET—which had been generally agreed at Batavia. These principles were also approved by the Allied meteorological conference in Auckland in 1942 for adoption in the Pacific area, and were subsequently confirmed by the Combined Meteorological Committee at Washington.

The COMETSYN cipher comprised 60 pages, each containing 30 lines of five figure groups. A distinctive five letter starting point indicator was adopted for the table, which went into operation on 27 February 1942 with replacement every two months. Rapid expansion of the broadcast services, however, soon heavily increased the traffic load on the cipher so that in January 1943 it was increased in size to 100 pages and replaced monthly. Even that proved inadequate to the security task involved, so that, in April 1944, the life of the cipher was decreased to 10 days and security further safeguarded by the allocation of blocks of starting points among offices originating messages. Finally, the use of COMETSYN was discontinued for collective synoptic messages and replaced by the SS frame system on 10 November 1944. COMETSYN was retained, however, for the exchange of meteorological W/T messages between stations and for transmission of station reports by wireless.

Special purpose codes also were designed and put into operation for diverse purposes. There were, for instance, the spotter codes that were compiled for use by guerilla forces and others operating behind enemy lines before the fall of the NEI, Philippine Islands and parts of New Guinea. By these means valuable information was secured of weather conditions in these probable target areas. These codes were necessarily simple, for the men were operating under conditions of the utmost danger and difficulty, relying in the main on loyal native villages, for supplies and shelter.

Codes had also to be provided by the Directorate to meet the needs of essential public services under conditions of security. For example, observers of the lighthouse service which continued their functions throughout the war and weather messages from pedal set radio stations to ensure continuance of the flying doctor service of the inland.

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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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