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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

Chapter 4: Meteorology in Aviation

Chapter 5: The Met. Retreating
Papua New Guinea and New Britain
The Netherlands East Indies and Malaya
Escape from Timor
Northern Australia—1942

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 Netherlands East Indies and Malaya

In 1941, an advanced RAAF meteorological section with Flight-Lieutenant (later Squadron-Leader) Brian Rofe as OIC had been established at the operational base at Koepang in Timor. Others had been set up further north at Ambon and Namlea. In mid-December of that year, Squadron-Leader Hannay was posted to Kota Baru in Kelantan, one of the Federated Malay States. With Squadron-Leader George Mackey, Flight-Lieutenant Doug Forder and Warrant-Officer Andy Murfett. The party did not reach its destination because the enemy had already occupied the Malay peninsula by the time the party reached Sembawang, the station on Singapore Island under RAAF command. Since individual members were thus cut off, it was decided that they should work at the RAF headquarters at Sime Road, Singapore. Great benefit was obtained from the association here with Wing-Commander Grimes, senior meteorological officer, RAF. This was the only meteorological centre in Malaya at this time. During the period, Singapore was continually under air attack, the main targets being the naval base, the aerodromes at Sembawang, Kalang Seletar and Tengah, and the harbour installations of Singapore itself. The military situation deteriorated rapidly and it was decided to withdraw the bomber squadrons, including two RAAF Hudson squadrons, to Palembang in Sumatra. The RAAF Met. section was instructed to accompany these squadrons to provide a weather service at the new base. Ground crew, including meteorological personnel departed by sea convoy from Singapore on 27 January 1942, reaching Pladjoe two days later after surviving one ineffective high level attack from the enemy. Palembang aerodrome, 25 miles from Palembang itself was reached by rail and motor transport. The Met. section was soon organised under the able direction of Squadron-Leader George Mackey, and a 24-hour watch was kept at station headquarters where the Met. was located. Bombing missions were carried out by the RAAF on Malaya, Indo-China and later Singapore, which had fallen, but the Met. was greatly handicapped by the paucity of reporting networks.

Palembang II airstrip was regarded as a secret aerodrome. The satellite strip, Palembang I was raided several times by the enemy as was Palembang settlement itself; but no enemy fighters were sighted at Palembang II. However, the Japs attempted a parachute landing at Palembang I, and in view of this, it was decided to evacuate the RAAF base to Lahat. All equipment, including personal belongings, was rapidly denied the enemy by burning; and all ground personnel, except for an armed rearguard, commenced the march to Lahat, 100 miles distant towards the mountains. However, the initial Jap attack on Palembang was repulsed by Dutch troops, and the RAAF unit was ordered to return to Palembang 'after getting ten kilometres down the road'. The next day, however, enemy land forces had penetrated up the Moesi River to Palembang and the town and satellite aerodrome were under attack from ground and air forces. Again the orders were given to evacuate, the rendezvous being changed from Lahat to Oosthaven, a port in southern Sumatra.

People in Bright Sparcs - Forder, Douglas Highmoor (Doug); Hannay, Alexander Keith (Keith); Mackey, George William; Murfett, A. M. (Andy); Rofe, Bryan

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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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