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Table of Contents

Memories of the Bureau, 1946 to 1962



J. W. Zillman Director of Meteorology
The Seven Stages in the Life and Career of Dr W. J. Gibbs
The Meteorological Legacy of Dr Gibbs
Dr Gibb's Career—An Appreciation


Chapter 1: The Warren Years, 1946 to 1950

Chapter 2: International Meteorology

Chapter 3: The Timcke Years, 1950 to 1955

Chapter 4: A Year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Chapter 5: The Dwyer Years, 1955 to 1962

Chapter 6: A Springboard for the Future

Appendix 1: References

Appendix 2: Reports, Papers, Manuscripts

Appendix 3: Milestones

Appendix 4: Acknowledgements

Appendix 5: Summary by H. N. Warren of the Operation of the Meteorological Section of Allied Air Headquarters, Brisbane, 1942–45



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Meteorological Management

Bill came from a generation of leaders of scientific organisations whose focus was on getting things done simply, effectively and with sensitivity to the personal circumstances of his professional colleagues and staff. His management legacy to the Bureau has been an abiding concern for high quality service to the community and a commitment to the efficient achievement of important outcomes which has, I hope, to some extent, survived the suffocating centrally-driven imposition of management process that is the legacy of the Public Service 'reforms' of the past fifteen years. It was an outstanding tribute to his management philosophy and leadership that the 1976 Committee of Inquiry into the Bureau of Meteorology (CIBM), commissioned to discredit the management of the Bureau, reported instead that the Bureau was a fine organisation, albeit in need of stronger backing for a range of changes of the kind that Bill himself had been seeking to have accepted for many years.

International Cooperation

For more than two decades, Bill Gibbs towered over the field of international cooperation in meteorology to the enormous benefit of Australia and the entire global community. Along with such legendary figures as Academician Federov of the Soviet Union and Dr Harry Wexler of the US, he played a key role in the conceptual design of the World Weather Watch as one of the greatest achievements in international cooperation in the history of the world and in an environment of unprecedented global tension at the height of the Cold War. Along with Academician Federov, Dr Bob White of the US and Dr B. J. (later Sir John) Mason of the UK, he played a vital role in modernising the World Meteorological Organization in the 1960s. His election as First Vice President of WMO just a few years after his appointment as Australia's Permanent Representative with the Organization, represented a clear international recognition of his vision and leadership. At the forefront of international political developments in the early 1970s, he was the initiator and driving force behind the early entry into the World Meteorological Organization of the People's Republic of China, a bold and farsighted gesture which cemented a generation's friendship between the meteorological communities of the two nations. Through Bill's personal vision and leadership and his intense commitment to international cooperation, he built up the enormous standing which Australia still enjoys in international meteorology, and especially in the World Meteorological Organization, and which has enabled those of my generation to achieve much more for Australia through international cooperation than would have been possible through any other inheritance.

History of Meteorology

One of Bill Gibbs's finest legacies to Australian meteorology is that of which this Metarch 13 volume is the culmination. With the modest support that the Bureau has been able to provide, he has laboured for twenty years in retirement to document the remarkable history of the Bureau and of the development and growth of meteorology in Australia. It is a mark of his endowment with the trait of 'modesty in greatness' which he so much admires in others that he has concentrated his efforts on the history of the time before his own most outstanding contribution. While it is, in some ways, a shame that the full story of his battles for the Bureau during his sixteen years as Director of Meteorology, especially the last six difficult and stressful years, will not be told in his own words, it is undeniable that Bill has, through his writings, provided the foundation of the history of Australian meteorology on which others can now build. It has been a noble undertaking and an extraordinary achievement.

People in Bright Sparcs - Gibbs, William James (Bill)

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Gibbs, W. J. 1999 'A Very Special Family: Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology 1946 to 1962', Metarch Papers, No. 13 May 1999, Bureau of Meteorology

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