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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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Escape from Timor

Early in 1942, following the Japanese southward thrust, the only functioning Allied meteorological observing stations in the Pacific were at Port Moresby Vila Noumea, and Willis Island.

Parties of displaced Australian servicemen were dodging the Japanese in South-East Asia, seeking any means of escape to Australia. Aircraftsman L. Bourke was one of a rearguard of 33 RAAF officers and airmen who remained behind on the island of Timor when the Japanese overran the Netherlands East Indies. He related that 'the mission of his party was to carry out rearguard and destructive operations in order to deny the Japanese the use of airfield and ground installations in Timor'. The officer in charge of the group was Flight-Lieutenant Bryan Rofe (D.Met.S.) formerly OIC of the meteorological section at Koepang.[51]

The subsequent adventures of this party constitute what may be one of the most graphic and dramatic escapes in Australian war history. 'It was a story of sheer courage and of grim hide-and-seek with the Japanese in the jungles and hills of Timor', reports a staff writer of T.V. Times. [52]

The events leading up to the escape were described mainly by Rofe himself to the T.V. Times. 'It all started even before Japan entered the war. Members of 2 Squadron RAAF were sent to Timor where, living as civilians, our job was to establish relations with the Dutch and establish aerodromes with meteorological facilities for heavy bombers.' [53]

The advancing Japanese reached Timor early in 1942. Rofe's party destroyed the same airfield they had so laboriously constructed a short time before; and also arms and ammunition which could not be left to the enemy. The only items retained were limited food supplies, vital radio equipment, meagre medical items and secret documents.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Directorate of Meteorological Services (D.Met.S)

People in Bright Sparcs - 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
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher