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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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Peter Copland on Cyclone Tracy (continued)

After a more detailed inspection of the radar, the building and the DCA power house, I believed that the main problem was with the power house which was lacking a roof and which had a rather burnt switchboard that had been full of water. The big question now was where to find a 25 kW generator in Darwin, six hours after Tracy. I had seen the RAAF using trailer mounted generators for exercises, and thought they may be worth a try. Fortunately, the RAAF had been rather particular in insisting that all those working at the airport should have official passes. The pass made it much easier to get past the rather ruffled staff of the RAAF headquarters to the base Commanding Officer, with my quite ridiculous request for a 25 KW generator. I had a good hearing, and after some discussion, a firm promise for something substantial by the next morning. Perhaps the chance of having an operational meteorological office with a radar operating in a few days had something to do with it. The RAAF had a major advantage over other organisations in Darwin inasmuch as they almost all lived in the same housing area, even the Commanding Officer, so their communication problems were much easier than for the rest of us. The Bureau's staff were spread over the whole town.

Back at the school and almost utter bedlam. Most of the inhabitants of the nearby wrecked caravan park had moved there. There was one young policeman and, I think, a local doctor trying to keep things under control. The worry of a lot of the people was that we were actually still in the eye and they were still expecting the other half to appear at any moment; I tried to convince as many as possible this was not the case. With no way of public communication I believe this was a real problem in the northern suburbs over which the eye had not passed. Our families had set up a temporary camp in the shed with our vehicles; several other groups of homeless friends had also moved in. I think the group now would have numbered about 20 with half under 12 years old. We had a rather quiet, sparse and impromptu Christmas dinner, with most sitting on the wet floor, but it was possibly the best dinner had by any Darwin group that day.

Another inspection of the radar aimed at getting the anticipated power for the building, making sure that there was nothing shorted in our switchboard and to disconnect the cables from the DCA power house. Looked at the airport Dines anemograph, and was not very encouraged; it was rather flat on the ground, as was the instrument shelter. Then planed to set up a spare Synchrotac unit beside the radar building. We still had an ok radiosonde and the instrument shelter at the radar would be ok for normal observations.

That night (still Christmas Day), and working on a rumour, we found that the phone in the airport Weather Service Office was actually still operating. So we waited in a queue 'til about midnight when we managed to get a message to relatives down south that we were all ok. Also, some other good news messages for friends' relatives. My wife's sister in Sydney would probably have spent the next hour or so ringing around Australia.

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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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