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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)

With the evacuation of most of the younger families and many homeless people Darwin's population was down to less than a third. Most of the homeless Bureau staff moved into the Rapid Creek pre-school, which they set up with most of the essentials of life. With the rather massive help from the rest of the nation things improved. Some of the schools were set up as food centres with a type of free supermarket and a kitchen with an eating area. These places were very well patronised in the first few weeks as most of the population had no power for cooking and freezing, even if living in a dry 'house'.

One partly corroborated story about the airlift heard since is about the Pommie spy base opposite the Sattler airstrip about 15 kilometres down the highway. It goes that they were all evacuated by a British aircraft to Singapore on 26 December even before our medical teams had finished their urgent work in getting our injured to southern hospitals.

Just past the spy base was where the road block was set up to stop anyone driving into Darwin from the south; the 'Darwin Permit Zone'. One would not dare pass the road block without written permission; you would be locked out never to return. On about 31 December Alan Jarman and I requested official permission to search the remains of Jack Byrne's house. The jovial policeman organised a permit after forcing us to polish off a couple of cold beers. Alas, we only recovered two or three boxes; even the trailer had gone. Bureau staff had taken possession of his almost new Mazda ute and put it to use. Later, Jack sold the spotted (paint spots to stop rust) vehicle to the airport Observer Grade 3, Graham Firth.

New Year's Eve was rather different to Christmas Eve. With 75 percent of the people including most of the families and 80 percent of the houses missing, celebrations were quite subdued. Actually, some of the remaining Darwin residents were now quite isolated with maybe only one or two occupied 'houses' in some streets.

Our power system at home was extended to its maximum to run two or three lights in each of the four 'houses', including an overhead line to ours, and the three freezers. Would check the oil and fuel at daylight and start up, then refuel after breakfast and everyone off to work. The generator would stop in just over two hours. Someone would refuel and restart it again at lunchtime. Then again in the evening 'til lights out about 10 pm. We still had a little of our frozen food from before Christmas in March 1975. This must have been the hardest working little alternator ever, with two spark plugs and five oil changes in ten weeks hard work.

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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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