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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)

The timing of weather forecasts for operational strikes was all important. The terminal situation over the target was the key to success—and, incidentally, the most difficult situation to forecast since it had to be on the dot. The two photographs of Soerabaja, taken 13 March 1943, illustrate the point. A raid was to be made on enemy installations at this place, and good visibility, as always, was vital to success. The two photos were taken within minutes of each other. The first one shows an overcast situation, and the second, a clear view of the target at the precise time of attack. The forecast was exact, to the approval of the Air Officer Commanding North West Area at the time Air-Commodore F. M. Bladin, RAAF.

Arch Shields, who was at North West Area when Keith Hannay was the Area Meteorological Officer, recalled the daily conferences with the commanders—the 'top brass'. He remembers Air Vice-Marshal R. Cole CBE (Ole King Cole inevitably), and his keen interest in weather. Darwin, like most of Australia north of the Tropic of Capricorn, has two seasons—the wet and the dry—each with clear-cut weather characteristics. One day, Air Vice-Marshal Cole asked Met. officer Gerry O'Mahoney if he could have copies of the daily weather charts to study privately 'No Sir', ventured Gerry, risking his neck, 'there are only two charts—one for winter and one for summer'.[76]

In May 1943, the British Air Ministry decided that it was essential to maintain an Empire air connection between England, Australia and New Zealand. Part of this route was from Perth to Colombo, the longest single hop in the world until the use of the Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean made a midway staging possible. Forecasting the weather for this route was fraught with difficulty, involving, as it did, the weather pattern in two hemispheres over a distance of 3,000 miles. A meteorological observing station was set up in the Cocos Islands by D.Met.S., and weather reports were available from Ceylon. Even so, the few reports received were, almost literally, a drop in the ocean. The first forecast was made for the first flight on this route by Flight-Lieutenant John (Doc) Hogan who had spent two years at Port Moresby.[77]

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

People in Bright Sparcs - Hannay, Alexander Keith (Keith); Hogan, John (Doc); 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