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Early Years in the Bureau


My Early Years in the Bureau of Meteorology

The Formation of the Frosterley Club

Attachment A

Attachment B

Attachment C

Attachment D

Attachment E

Attachment F

Attachment G

Attachment H

Attachment I


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My Early Years in the Bureau of Meteorology (continued)

Three men conducted the flight, including one recording the measurements made each minute on the pilot balloon theodolite and the rangefinder. During that week I accompanied two others, selected from Mackey, Deering, Maher and Alf Rose, in making pilot balloon flights. I had a month or so on these duties before our training course began—I learned quite a lot of things about the Bureau before the course started.

I had also accompanied staff from the forecasting section, weather room, several times to assist in making the Melbourne observations at the Royal Society site and learned to read barometers with which I had become acquainted from my work in physics. During the whole of August and until our course started on the 11 September I worked in the research room, with Mr Treloar. This was partly because Mr Mackey had been transferred to Darwin, to take over from the legendary figure of Mr W. A. Dwyer who had just completed three years at the newly established Darwin Meteorological Office. Mackay being on three weeks pre-embarkation leave, his desk became vacant and Mr Cornish was transferred to this desk and Mr Barkley decided I should work in the research room. He gave me plenty of work to do. I continued to accompany various people up on the roof in the morning and afternoon to continue with the pilot balloon flights, but one of my main jobs in the research department was learning all about the construction of what Mr Treloar used to call tephigrams. We didn't have any radiosondes in those days. The three daily upper air readings were taken by RAAF aircraft from Laverton and Richmond, and by naval aircraft from the HMAS Canberra which was operating in northern waters near Darwin at the time. The temperature and humidity readings every thousand feet of altitude were sent in by phone from Laverton and by telegram from Darwin and Richmond. I had to plot the tephigrams. There appeared to be two people conducting flights at Laverton, one of these was a Flying Officer Cohen who we later knew very well indeed. First of all because he was one of the participants in our met course which started in September, and secondly because, much later, as Dick Kingsland DFC, he was Permanent Head of the Department of the Interior in which the Bureau was administratively located. Later still he was to become Sir Richard Kingsland.

One of Mr Treloar's daily tasks once I had completed the tephigrams was to analyse these and then take them down to the weather room at midday every day where a forecast board was assembling, consisting of Mr Watt, Mr Barkley, Mr Hogan and Mr Camm, who was in charge of the Forecasting Section as it was called then. They prepared not only the daily forecasts for Melbourne and Victoria, but also checked the forecasts which came in from the other Bureaus in Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane and Hobart. Perth forecasts were not available at that hour of the day. Later in the afternoon advisory aviation forecasts were prepared for publication in the following day's newspapers. These were very brief and sketchy and weren't received too kindly when they were sent out by teleprinter to the various aerodrome met offices. One of the uses to which the Melbourne tephigram was put by Mr Treloar was to provide Coles cafeteria with daily forecasts about 10.00 or 11.00 am. These were forecasts of the likely Melbourne temperature at lunch-time and the possibility or otherwise of rain from which they estimated likely demand for pies or icecream for that day. Someone from Coles would phone me about 11.00 daily to get these forecasts. During this period I learned something of how to plot and draw surface charts and something of the old Australian word code. We learned of these matters during the first few weeks of our training course later. The second member of our training course to arrive was a young fellow Jarvis Glasscock who arrived at the end of the first week of August. He was aged 21, a school teacher from New South Wales. He was the only one of the new appointees who wasn't a graduate, but he had done one year at the university of Sydney. A very nice bloke but his main interest was pretty obviously going to be in aviation as he really wanted to join the RAAF.

People in Bright Sparcs - Cohen, Dick (Kingsland); Cornish, Allan William; Dwyer, Walter Anthony; Hogan, John; Kingsland, Richard; Lillywhite, John Wilson; Mackey, George William; Maher, John Vincent (Jack); Timcke, Edward Waldemar; Treloar, Harry Mayne; Watt, William Shand

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Lillywhite, J. 1992 'My Early Years in the Bureau of Meteorology: The Formation of the Frosterley Club', Metarch Papers, No. 4 February 1992, Bureau of Meteorology

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