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Table of Contents

Glimpse of the RAAF Meteorological Service




Chapter 1: Growing Up

Chapter 2: Port Moresby Before Pearl Harbour

Chapter 3: Port Moresby After Pearl Harbour

Chapter 4: Allied Air Force HQ and RAAF Command, Brisbane

Chapter 5: Japan Surrenders and We Are Demobilised



Appendix 1: References

Appendix 2: Milestones

Appendix 3: Papers Published in Tropical Weather Research Bulletins

Appendix 4: Radiosonde Observations 1941–46


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A Glimpse of the RAAF Meteorological Service


It is for me a unique honour to write this short Preface to Allen Bath's Foreword to Dr W. J. (Bill) Gibbs's personal reminiscences of the RAAF Meteorological Service. For Allen and Bill, along with Barney Newman, Arch Shields, Herb Whittingham and Henry Phillpot, who feature so prominently in the following chapters, were the major influences on my own early years in the Bureau of Meteorology.

Dr Gibbs joined the Bureau of Meteorology the year I was born and was appointed Commonwealth Director of Meteorology the year I began my career as an operational forecaster. From Allen Bath I first heard of the achievements and camaraderie of the RAAF Meteorological Service and Herb Whittingham spent many lunch hours in the late 1950s telling a fascinated young cadet meteorologist of the exploits of Flight Lieutenant Gibbs at Allied Air Headquarters in Brisbane in the early 1940s. For those of us who followed the generation of Australian meteorologists who made up the RAAF Meteorological Service, the chapters of Dr Gibbs's history will bring back the vividness of our own first recollections of the great characters who stayed on in meteorology to build the post-war Bureau.

No one has played a greater role in building the Bureau of Meteorology over the years since it returned to a civilian organisation at the end of the war than Dr Gibbs. Already of a strong research bent from his work on tropical analysis in Port Moresby and Brisbane, in 1951–52 he attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he gained a Masters degree. In 1958 he became the Bureau's Assistant Director Research, and in 1962 he succeeded the late L. J. Dwyer as Director of Meteorology.

Many exciting developments occurred during Dr Gibbs's directorship, including the introduction of satellite meteorology and computers, the development of the Bureau's research role and the growth in Bureau staff numbers to a peak of 1 958 in 1975. In 1974, all the scattered Head Office Sections were consolidated into the Bureau's present headquarters at 150 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne.

People in Bright Sparcs - Bath, Allen Tristram; Dwyer, Leonard Joseph; Newman, Bernard William (Bernie); Phillpot, Henry Robert; Shields, Archibald John; Whittingham, Herbert E. (Herb)

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Gibbs, W. J. 1995 'A Glimpse of the RAAF Meteorological Service', Metarch Papers, No. 7 March 1995, 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