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Table of Contents

RAAF Meteorological Service



Chapter 1: The Weather Factor in Warfare

Chapter 2: Establishing and Developing the RAAF Directorate of Met. Services (D.Met.S)

Chapter 3: Recruiting and Training of Personnel
Senior Officers
Recruitment and Personnel
Training Courses
'Who are these Met blokes?'

Chapter 4: Meteorology in Aviation

Chapter 5: The Met. Retreating

Chapter 6: The Met. Advancing

Chapter 7: The Met With the Army and the Navy

Chapter 8: Divisional Offices of the Bureau of Meteorology During the War

Chapter 9: Research and Instrumental Development

Chapter 10: The End, Aftermath, and Beyond

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Appendix 3

Appendix 4



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The WAAAF (continued)

Kath told of the cyclone that hit Townsville during Arthur White's absence. It was 'a real flap', she said, characterised by the typical confusion in military communication that occurred from time to time. The commanding officer of a large American army unit at Rowe's Bay rang Kath to find out about the imminent cyclone. She referred him to Garbutt air base from where the weather forecasts were issued. However, the Met. section there could not be contacted because all lines were busy. Kath then used the direct hotline to Garbutt, and the Met. section promised to advise her of the estimated time of arrival of the cyclone. No message came, and no information was passed on to the Americans. The cyclone hit with full fury on the camp at Rowe's Bay. Kath didn't know the extent of the damage as it was classified information. Strangely, there were no repercussions.

The same lady described her hair-raising first flight in the Lancaster aircraft G for George (now in the Australian War Memorial). The famous British bomber was on a war bond tour, and had to be seen by as many people as possible along the coast. 'So we hedge-hopped along the railway, and in and out of the villages and towns', reminisced Kath. 'Put out one hand, and you felt you could touch a cliff face between two mountains—then the roof of the hospital, and a turn, and you were opposite the other cliff face.' It was no consolation for Kath that she made the return flight in a Vultee Vengeance, sitting above the open bomb bay and looking at the ground. 'The only good thing was the weather!' she exclaimed.[20]

For military personnel stationed at Townsville during the war, the mecca of recreation and relaxation was beautiful Magnetic Island across Cleveland Bay. In the days of ration coupons for clothing, Kath Atherton recalled that it was a real challenge to get out of uniform and into something more appropriate for the island. 'Small cotton tablecloths could be bought in Townsville', she said. Two of those made quite an attractive skirt or bathing costume. Today, one cloth would probably make two modern bikinis!' When the war ended, Kath Atherton was posted to the Brisbane Weather Bureau, 'where I remained making my usual number of mistakes, until July 1946, when I was discharged'.[21]

Some excerpts from a letter received from ex-Flight-Sergeant Florence Hall (now living in Bendigo, Victoria), and from notes taken at a subsequent personal interview with this lady, give further insight into meteorological experiences of the WAAAF. After training as a Meteorological Charter in July 1942, Florence was attached to the training section at Central Weather Bureau, Melbourne, to assist in the training of Meteorological Charters.

'My duties were varied and interesting, never boring or even tedious. At times, I was on the roof taking weather observations or assisting with photography. For me, these duties involved frequent trips to the film processing company in Collins Street. There were some hazards to be encountered though, in the form of Service Police. If they saw me first, they pounced and asked to see my leave pass. I explained politely that I was not on leave, but very much on duty. They replied You can't be on duty in the middle of Collins Street!' They were difficult to convince, but eventually let me off with a warning. If I saw them first I usually managed to elude them!'[22]

People in Bright Sparcs - White, Arthur Charles

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Joyce, J. 1993 'The Story of the RAAF Meteorological Service', Metarch Papers, No. 5 October 1993, Bureau of Meteorology

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
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