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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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Northern Australia—1942


A RAAF meteorological station was established in Darwin in January 1941. When the Japanese occupied Singapore and the Netherlands East Indies a little more man a year later, Australians, particularly in Western Australia and Queensland, expected an early invasion. This was underlined by the disastrous air raids on Darwin, and less severe but destructive attacks on Broome and Port Hedland in February and March 1942.

Amongst Meteorological Officers who served at Darwin were Neil McRae, Keith Hannay, Vic Bahr, Andy Garriock, John Lillywhite, Bob McConnell, Bryan Rofe, Allan Cornish, Arch Shields, Henry Banfield and George Trefry. Meteorological Assistants in 1942 included Warrant-Officers A. Sullivan, H. Carpenter, W. Dwyer, H. Gilbert, C. James, A. Murfett and J. O'Connor. Other ranks included L. Coombes, R. Hargreaves, B. Slattery and D. Armstrong.

Many accounts have been written of the bombing of Darwin and the exodus of the populace, including military personnel, inland. Arch Shields saw the USS Neptunia blow up during a raid, producing a magnificent thunderhead (cumulonimbus cloud) and a thunderstorm. One officially unrecorded tale tells of two Met. officers who remained in Darwin throughout the first raid. They wandered around the devastated town. One picked up a discarded tin hat, the other a couple of scattered batteries for his torch. As they were doing this, who should confront them but a senior RAAF Group-Captain who had arrived in Darwin just after the air raid. At a subsequent officers' meeting that night at a hastily contrived mess inland at Adelaide River, the Grouper - who was noted for his bluntness—commented: What did I find when I got to Darwin? Only two Met. officers. And what were they doing? Looting the bloody town!'

During the real war, the paper war waged more fiercely than ever at Darwin meteorological office. Gerry O'Mahoney smiled when he told me how many files were lost in the raids on Darwin—'destroyed by enemy action' was the phrase used by OIC Neil McRae in a telegram to D.Met.S. Melbourne. Most of us would have welcomed such an opportunity to account for lost items, particularly papers, which remote officialdom seemed to be unduly concerned about.

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

People in Bright Sparcs - Bahr, Victor John; Banfield, Henry Evans; Cornish, Allan William; Dwyer, Walter Anthony; Hannay, Alexander Keith (Keith); Lillywhite, John Wilson; McRae, John Neil; Murfett, A. M. (Andy); Rofe, Bryan; Shields, Archibald John

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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