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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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Some Stories by Colourful Freddie Soutter (continued)

While stationed at Townsville I experienced two periods of continuous upper air observations for a period of 100 days each, one being for the International Geophysical Year in 1958, the other during the atomic bomb testing at the Monte Bello Islands. The three hydrogen generating cylinders never got cold; we filled the balloons with hot hydrogen gas.

When the sferics equipment was installed at Charleville, Eagle Farm and Townsville, apart from its great use for the location of thunderstorms, it was a great network for keeping in touch with other meteorological staff and keeping abreast of transfers etc.

During my five years at Townsville I had a number of Observer (Radio)s off course who stayed for a short time only to be transferred to a location with a newly installed radar. I appreciated my friendship and companionship with George Khan whose technical knowledge and workmanship was well above par. Unfortunately, George passed away in the late 1970s; he was sadly missed in the Bureau. I have estimated that for half of my time at Townsville I was the sole Observer (Radio) with equipment like the seismograph, UV recorder, sky brightness sensors and air sampling detectors for atomic fallout to operate and maintain along with the radar and radiosonde equipment. Also, there wasn't a cleaning contract in those days and the Observer (Radio) was responsible for cleaning the building.

I transferred to Cairns/Kuranda in 1961 after working with the Head Office installation party installing the SNW51 radar on Saddle Mountain near Kuranda, and the WF1 wind-finding radar at Cairns Airport. I resigned in March 1962 due to problems caused by an injury received at Townsville in May 1957 from a hydrogen explosion, plus incompatibility with the then OIC Cairns meteorological office over rostering me for electronic observations without allowing time for any maintenance work on the equipment. That action, without any compromise, I found hurtful and unacceptable at the time. My replacement at Cairns/Kuranda was Raymond W. Clarke.

I rejoined the Bureau from Cairns in October 1966 and transferred to Charleville where, on arrival and after a brief look at the equipment and meteorological office, I started at 2.30 am the next morning on a dual shift with Peter Copland. I found the sferics network still operative and I caught up with many of the old time staff. Also, I became acquainted by voice and name with new staff including four 'techs' at Eagle Farm who I later worked with in Brisbane on the establishment of the Regional Maintenance Centre at Eagle Farm in 1971 after the union had battled long and hard to have the 'techs' divorced from observational duties, which transpired, I think, in 1973.

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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

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