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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)

Our 'tech' staff (Ian and Geoff) had had a fairly tough time, and their ladies were even less happy. There was not really much they could do for a few days so they all drove out, I think on 26 December, along with some thousands of other Darwinites. Never could work out why there was such a rush since there was plenty of food and water for a few days, even in tins. Although, I guess, the beer got warm fairly quickly. Not able to see Barry Passmore and his family in the northern suburb wreckage but was told they had all survived, but not their house.

On Thursday 26 December we decided to move back to the remains of our houses, and leave some extra room at the school. Set up the generator under the house opposite ours with a couple of freezers and a small refrigerator, and some power leads for lights to the next door houses. This was all completed while I was back working at the airport. My wife lost her sunglasses during this operation; we found them later in one of the freezers. The kitchen and lounge area of our house remained ok. With no water, the roofless bathroom did not matter too much. Our friends over the road had two bedrooms, a bathroom and half a kitchen.

The RAAF had found a power source for us, a 35 kW machine, I think, and were finding some cable, fuel and a electrician to help me hook it into the building. Had a bit of fun while waiting at the Weather Service Office where one of the fire hydrants was broken off with water gushing out 1.5 metres high. Another guy and I tried to screw the pipe back on which, of course, was quite impossible. Then the idea of parking a car wheel on the opening (with the car attached). This idea worked after several attempts and, although having a rather good shower in the process, reduced the wastage of water to about a tenth. A bloke in a nearby shed had a bit of a grizzle; he would now have to use a tap.

The alternator arrived at the radar building in the afternoon together with some drums of diesel. The engine fuel tank would last for 15 hours as I remember, so had to be refuelled from the drums every 12 hours. Connected the alternator directly into the main switchboard, and, apart from stopping to check oil and water levels every few days, it ran continuously for the next six to eight weeks. Now to get things operational again. The first problem was to dry out all the electronics which had spent two days in 100 percent relative humidity, with even the floor cable ducts full of water. The poor old air-conditioners worked flat for out for quite awhile. Late in the afternoon I had a visitor. Our Staff Clerk from Melbourne, Kevin Beatty, had become a stowaway on a Hercules to Darwin to see what was happening. I think he cheered up the Bureau staff a bit. I also seem to remember he may have got into a bit of strife over the unauthorised trip.

A surface observation program was started at the radar building, I think, on the afternoon of Friday 27 December. Commenced trying to get the radar going that afternoon. A couple of the power supplies got hot and smoky but after repairs and some more hours drying out it worked. The first balloon flight would have been on Saturday 28 December. If I remember correctly radiosonde flights were a bit of a problem for awhile. There were no doors on the filling shed and gas supplies were not too good. The local gas supplier was not operating, but I think there were still some 'do it yourself gear' and chemical supplies on hand which the guys may have used.

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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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