Page 285
Previous/Next Page
Federation and MeteorologyBureau of Meteorology
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



Contact us

The Bismarck Sea Battle—1 March 1943

Squadron-Leader J. N. (Neil) McRae (D.Met.S.) described how the Japanese fleet made use of the cloud cover in the Bismarck Sea; how US Flying Fortresses went off to strike, and were so baffled by the darkness and the weather they had to return to their base without having sighted the enemy. Flying Officer Godgens officially reported McRae's description:
'The Japanese convoy was hidden in a front and contact was not made until later in the day. Then a flight of Fortresses attacked again as the ships manoeuvred under cover of squalls. That night the wind changed, and by morning on 3 March, the convoy was entering Huon Gulf under clear skies. The sun broke through just as a second wave of Fortresses approached the target area. There lay the Japanese fleet deprived of its cover, and the battle began with Beaufighters and Mitchell and Boston bombers joining in. The result of the engagement was the complete annihilation of a Japanese convoy bound for Lae.'[66]

Both the Coral and Bismarck Sea battles were won through superior knowledge and tactical use of the weather.

While the desperate engagements in the Coral Sea and at Milne Bay were going on, Australian forces were holding the Kokoda Trail in New Guinea.

The increasing number of USAAC aircraft being used in this period of major engagements necessitated a great increase in the number of weather forecasts required. The main information given by Met. officers was advice on the most favourable routes to follow, possible cloud-cover protection, and conditions likely to occur over bases and targets. Operations were frequently amended on such advices. Meteorological blackboards placed in operations rooms were of considerable value to planners. Close meteorological contact was maintained with operations and intelligence officers at USAAC headquarters at Port Moresby, as the RAAF had the only meteorological section in the area. The only drawback with this arrangement was the lack of personal contact with the pilots at Port Moresby. This was partly overcome by the meteorological section's acquisition of a motor vehicle which was used to travel the seven-mile strip in order to brief aircrews.

Although the Coral Sea battle was mainly an engagement between carrier task forces, Gibbs stated that strikes were also made by B17 and B25 aircraft operating through Port Moresby, while Hudsons and Catalinas carried out reconnaissance. Forecasts issued for these operations were very accurate. At this time, meteorological flights were of great assistance to forecasters.

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

People in Bright Sparcs - Gibbs, William James (Bill); McRae, John Neil

Previous Page Bureau of Meteorology Next Page

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