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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 Bismarck Sea Battle—1 March 1943 (continued)

It was mentioned earlier that during 1942, there was a merger in the South-West Pacific area of the RAAF Directorate of Meteorological Services with the 15th USAAF weather squadron, but after a trial period of a few months, this was abandoned. Originally, when these two organisations were united, Squadron-Leader W. J. Gibbs stated that his transfer to general headquarters in Brisbane under the command of General Macarthur took place in July 1942. Brisbane truly became a garrison city during the war. The main task according to Gibbs was to provide weather information to the senior Allied naval, army and air force staff. To do this, charts were drawn regularly to cover the whole of the South-West Pacific area from southern Australia to about latitude 30 degrees north, and from Malaya in the west to longitude 180 degrees. Advices prepared covered mainly tropical regions. The weather in these was largely an unknown quantity, the only point generally agreed upon being that some of the worst weather in the world would be encountered there.

'Ralph Holmes and I took turns briefing the top brass at their daily strategy meetings', recalled Gibbs. Some of the watchful senior officers concerned were General Blarney AIF, Air-Vice Marshal Bostock RAAF and General Kenney of the USAAF.[68]

The meteorologist, delivering his summary of prevailing weather conditions, and suggesting any change to operations, was frequently assailed with a withering barrage of questions from 'sceptical but demanding staff commanders'. 'Then', smiled Bill Gibbs, 'the forecaster had to dash off before he heard anything secret, the reason for this quaint arrangement being that weather forecasting was commonly held to be somehow allied to black magic; the practitioners therefore being wild, unreliable fellows, much given to hearsay'.[69] This was the more peculiar when it is considered that the Met. officers were among the select few who knew beforehand of any projected operation. I recall an occasion when a RAAF Wing-Commander asked me for a forecast. I queried, Where are you going and when?' 'Oh, I'm sorry', said the officer, I can't tell you that. It's secret. I just want a forecast'. Amazing, but true!

Bill Gibbs stated:

'Invariably, the commander of Allied Air Forces requested our opinion of weather conditions for some particular strike he was preparing. If we thought the weather would be adverse on the day he had in mind, we would be required to give a further opinion as to when the strike would be possible. Rocked us a bit at times, I can tell you, and there was a fair horse-power of prayer ascending heavenwards on the nights of some of the strikes'.[70]

People in Bright Sparcs - Gibbs, William James (Bill); Holmes, Ralph Aubrey Edward

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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