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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

Chapter 6: The Met. Advancing
The Coral Sea Battle—May 1942
The Battle of Milne Bay—24 August to 8 September, 1942
The Bismarck Sea Battle—1 March 1943

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 Battle of Milne Bay—24 August to 8 September, 1942 (continued)

The story of the decisive but bloody battle fought at Milne Bay for more than a fortnight is graphically told in RAAF Mark 11 and RAAF Log:
'On Saturday 29 August 1942, a Japanese fleet composed of one cruiser and eight destroyers entered Milne Bay having made its approach under coyer of a torrential rainstorm . . . Allied pilots, navigators and air gunners flew in lowering weather. They took off and landed in a splather of water and slush, cursing the 'clouds full of rocks' as they called the mountain—pierced overcast. And all the while the enemy was using this cursed weather as a cover for stealthy moves . . . in the heavy overcast, the enemy aircraft were hard to find . . . rain was in fact the common denominator. Six inches fell one day with four inches the day after. Occasionally the clouds would open, and Milne Bay would sparkle in the sunshine, but the troops would struggle in a slough that bogged down aircraft and vehicles of all kinds.'
The Japanese convoy sighted by Hudson pilot, H. A. Robertson, was now perilously close to Milne Bay and still shielded by the weather . . . on seven nights the Japanese warships steamed into Milne Bay from a position some distance off the Trobriand Islands, where almost perpetually bad weather—with the visibility almost nil—gave them perfect cover in daylight.'[64]

Thus, the Japanese effectively used the weather as a shield throughout their determined onslaught; but in the long run, the weather was the real arbiter of events against them. Japanese aircraft could not land on the mainland or drop paratroopers in the murky conditions. Once their planes took off from their aircraft carrier base, they could only operate within a relatively short time and distance before withdrawing. On land the enemy could not easily manouevre heavy field guns and tanks in the mud. The Australian forces—the CMF, AIF—some British troops and the RAAF fought on decisively against repeated desperate attacks from the Japanese. RAAF Squadrons 75 and 76 attacked the foe ceaselessly for five consecutive days without let-up.

There were heavy casualties on both sides, but finally the Japanese withdrew, thus conceding defeat on land for the first time in the war. New Guinea was saved and the invasion of the Australian mainland averted.

The battle of Milne Bay proved to be the turning point in our fortunes', stated Air-Vice Marshall W. Bostock in an order of the day when the war ended.[65]

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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