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Table of Contents

Radio Technical Officers





Chapter 1: The Early Years

Chapter 2: The Training School

Chapter 3: Equipment Installation Records

Chapter 4: The 'Techs' in Antarctica

Chapter 5: The 'Techs' Tell Their Stories
Trevor Donald Tells It All; Life in the Bureau from 1947 to 1989
Ray Clarke Looks Back
Some Memories from Ralph Bulloch
Peter Copland Works in Meteorological Electronics
Some Titbits from Dave Grainger
A Very Modest Tale from Alf Svensson
Adrian Porter Pulls No Punches
Jack Tait Recalls
Some Stories by Colourful Freddie Soutter
Some Snippets from Noel Barrett
Stephen CourbÍt Has His Penny Wworth
And a Flyspeck or Two from Lenny Dawson
Some Interesting Reminiscences from Jannes Keuken
Brief Stories from Phil Black
From Gloria West, Wife of the Late Bob West
The Life and Bureau Times of Graham Linnett
Tales Out of School from Bill Hite
Peter Copland on Cyclone Tracy
Peter Broughton Tells the Story of Maralinga

Appendix 1: 'Techs' Roll Call

Appendix 2: Trainee Intakes

Appendix 3: 'Techs' Who Have Served in the Antarctic Region

Appendix 4: Summary of Major Installation Projects

Appendix 5: Summary of Major Equipment Variously Installed at Sites and Maintained by Radio Technical Officers


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Trevor Donald Tells It All; Life in the Bureau from 1947 to 1989 (continued)

The provision of staff residences was a problem right from the start. The homes were prefabricated Riley Newson homes and were shipped from Sydney on two vessels prior to my arrival on the Island. One vessel arrived with a modest assortment of parts for the three homes whilst the second vessel, the MV Awahou, which carried the greater part of the consignment foundered 150 kilometres or so south of Lord Howe Island. The ship vanished completely with all hands. A tragedy for the crew who I believe were all Fiji Islanders.

Shipping between Lord Howe Island and the mainland wasn't all that regular. Burns Philp ran a service every so often from Sydney to the Solomon Islands via Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. Another shipping line operated out of New Caledonia, loading in Sydney with cargo for Lord Howe and Norfolk and returning to Sydney via Noumea about every two months or so. A few years later both shipping lines gave the service away and the Army had to step in with their small ship and do a couple of trips transporting cargo from Sydney to Lord Howe Island.

In 1954, MV Jacque-del-Mar arrived from Sydney with a good load of general cargo which included a further three prefabricated Riley Newson homes. After a great deal of trouble, the prefabricated sections were transported to the housing site and the Department of Construction carried on with their erection.

On the evening of 21 July 1954, MV Jacque-del-Mar which was anchored outside the reef on the western side of the Island dragged its anchor and was washed up onto the reef. A cold front had passed through the area during the late evening and the freshening south-westerly winds and rising seas had done the damage. The crew were safely taken off during the night. At first light it was obvious that with the continuing strong surface winds and high seas that the ship would never get off the reef. To cut a long story short, most of the general cargo had already been unloaded and what was left onboard was pretty much all Commonwealth property—parts of the 'met' homes, new VHF transmitters for DCA, drums of fuel, telegraph poles and a great deal of copper cable, which along with the telegraph poles was to have been used to reticulate mains power around the Island.

The Island boat crew who normally unloaded and delivered ships cargo refused to go near the wreck unless they got complete salvage rights. This apparently was not acceptable to the powers concerned.

Within 24 hours salvage work was commenced and all the cargo was successfully taken off within four or five long working days. The salvage crew comprised Commonwealth employees from DCA, the Bureau and the Department of Works.

Initially, with the high seas running, the only way that we could get aboard the ship was to go out in the crash boat at low tide, jump out near the reef and then wade across the reef and climb up the ship's side. We would remain on board until the next low tide when we reversed the procedure. It was a marked change from our usual activities and, on the whole, quite enjoyable for us.

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Clarke, R. 1999 'Stories of the Bureau's Radio Technical Officers from 1948', Metarch Papers No. 14 February 1999, Bureau of Meteorology

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