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Table of Contents

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)

Reg and I had worked out a routine by then. We were the only staff with no observer so we had to do our own observing in addition to forecasting. Reg continued to do the morning shifts and I worked from 9.00 am till 5.00 pm or sometimes much later. We alternated the Sunday morning work, beginning at 5.00 am making a pilot balloon flight and forecast for the 'Bungana' which flew to Perth on Sundays as well as one other day during the week leaving about 6.30 am. By this time I had my bike and was able to get to work at that hour. There was no provision for shift workers in the Bureau at that time. Reg regularly claimed for overtime and penalty payments for all the out-of-hours work that he did. Barkley had been negotiating with the Public Service Board to create a structure for the Aviation Meteorological Staff. By this time there was an observer course in training in Melbourne and aviation staff was bound to increase very rapidly. Unfortunately Barkley died very suddenly in April 1938. This left things in a bit of a mess in Melbourne since Barkley had his hands very firmly on the reins. Willy Watt didn't know much about it. The Public Service Board decided to employ the Public Service Inspector in Hobart to try and get the Bureau out of the mess. He was H. N. Warren. My first meeting with H. N. Warren was when I was doing a pilot balloon flight one morning in July or August 1938 when he visited Adelaide. Soon after the 'Kyema' crash an inquiry on civil aviation in Australia had led to the setting up of the Department of Civil Aviation which up to that stage had been a small branch of the Defence Department. Barkley already had plans underway for the expansion of the Aviation Met Offices and setting up of Observing Offices at places like Ceduna, Forrest and Oodnadatta. There was an observer course being trained in Melbourne and also the next meteorologist course, towards the end of 1938 (October I think). Staff at aerodromes and at the Divisional Offices were going to expand their forecasting activities, extending them from roughly 9.00 am to 5.00 pm to shift work from 3.00 am to 9.00 pm or later. The number of forecasts to be issued from the Divisional Offices was planned to increase. The Divisional Offices with the newly modelled weather-rooms were scheduled to start operating in 1939. The professional staff were to be graduates trained as meteorologists. Those who didn't have degrees were to take up positions of Aviation Meteorologists. All the new meteorologists were to be promoted to the base grade which was then Assistant Meteorologists 306 to 510 salary range and naturally we all applied and received our promotions in October 1938. I was promoted to Melbourne and Errol Mizon was promoted as Weather Officer (a non-graduate meteorologist) to Parafield. I think all promotioners were appealed against by Ross Vollprecht who was in Brisbane. Although already a graduate for some reason or other he hadn't been able to get on the 1937 course. He was on the 1938 course but of course they hadn't finished yet and therefore he would miss out on seniority if he didn't get a Assistant Meteorologist job. I was promoted to Meteorologist to help start off the expanded forecasting office in Melbourne. I left Adelaide of January 1939, soon after the very severe bush fires in South Australia and Victoria in which 69 lives were lost. The other three meteorologists on the staff of the expanded weather room in Melbourne were Pat Squires, Neil McRae, and Joe Walpole. The new building annexed to No. 2 Drummond Street hadn't been quite completed and we had to work in the old weather room just inside the front door on the ground floor of the old building. On the first of April the 24-hour service began. By this time we had observers on shift with us. The first observers course had taken place in 1938. The 1938 forecaster course included Allen Bath, Jack Johnston, and a lot of others. When the weather room opened on the 1 April 1939 the first person on the 3.00 am till 8.00 am shift was Patrick Squires who didn't like it one little bit; forecasting wasn't his bent. Towards the end of 1939 he went back to the Research Division and was replaced by Jack Johnston so the four of us until the war started were Jack Johnston, Neil McRae, Joe Walpole and myself. The weather room was the first section from the old building to move into the new concrete annex and the supervising meteorologist was Tommy Camm. Tommy occupied a room on Victoria Street at the end of the weather room which with its teleprinters occupied the whole of the ground floor. Gradually others sections from Central Office moved into the new building. Allen Bath's training course was conducted in the Training School in the Horticultural Hall. The fourth meteorologist training course in 1940 was the first one to occupy the new room on the second floor of the new building. The second observer course started in 1939, and was conducted in the Horticultural Hall. The course included four students who were to come to the weather room as observers, plotters, communicators, what have you. Each was rostered with one of the forecasters. Barney Eastham was one of them although he hadn't completed satisfactorily the observer course. Others were Fred Leake, Alf Milwood and another I cannot remember. There were also Assistants Met. Branch who included young Kevin Clarke and a very young Tom Hall. There were also the first three cadet meteorologists who were combining on-the-job-training with their university course; Colin Hounam, Max Cassidy and Pat Ryan. Pat didn't last the course. The observers' shifts roughly coincided with ours—four observers and four of us. The observers had to start before 3.00 am beginning with the 3.00 am obs, and finished off with the 9.00 pm obs. Our shifts finished about 11.00 pm when we had to get all the material out to the newspapers of the following morning. When the war started on Monday September 4th 1939 the observer on the same shift was Fred Leake. When I started at 3.00 am I was living at Ivanhoe and Fred used to pick me up and drive me to work. Another observer who came to us from this second observer course was Jack Carpenter, who had already done a bit of pilot balloon training when he came to Parafield from the Adelaide Office where he was a junior assistant. I gave him a bit of coaching in making pilot balloon flights. For the 1938 and 1939 observer courses Len Dwyer (who had remained in Melbourne since our course) was in charge of the Training School over in the Horticultural Hall. When the 1940 meteorologist course started he was in charge of the second floor of the new Bureau building.

People in Bright Sparcs - Bath, Allen Tristram; Dwyer, Leonard Joseph; Hall, Thomas Taylor (Tom); Johnston, John (Jack); Lillywhite, John Wilson; McRae, John Neil; Ryan, Patrick (Pat); Squires, Patrick; Warren, Herbert Norman; 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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