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Table of Contents

Glimpse of the RAAF Meteorological Service




Chapter 1: Growing Up
Early Australian Meteorologists
Early Days in the Bureau
Forecasters' Training Course
My Classmates
Reorganisation of the Bureau
Love and Marriage

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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Early Days in the Bureau

I recall that when I joined the Divisional Office in 1939, the original three storey Divisional Office building still provided accommodation for the Divisional Meteorologist and his family on the third floor and the adjoining stone cottage was occupied by the Chief Clerk, Mr Steele, and his family. Steele was concerned for the safety of his grandchildren, who visited him from time to time, so he erected a low wire-netting fence to prevent them from falling into the evaporation tank in the instrument enclosure. In time a geranium wound its way up the wire-netting, reducing airflow over the water and almost certainly resulting in a reduction of evaporation of water from the tank.

D. J. (David) Mares was Divisional Meteorologist when I joined the Bureau. I remember him as a benevolent, middle-aged (but still muscular) individual with a shock of curly white hair which the newspapers of the day found photogenic. Any photograph of Davy accompanying a report in the newspaper of an interview with him was likely to show him peering into the clear glass sphere of a sunshine recorder. Invariably the photograph was taken into the sun which transformed his shock of white curly hair into a glowing halo.

Davy loved to chat about meteorology and many times I was privileged, when conveying some minor piece of information to his office, to be given his ideas on how the atmosphere worked. This was the traditional method of training a young potential meteorologist. One learnt about meteorology from more experienced staff or from books. The first formal training classes in the Bureau had commenced in 1937. Davy and his generation of meteorologists learnt about meteorology on the job.

Davy's forecasts for the following day were based on his memory of the weather which had accompanied similar mean sea-level pressure charts which he had analysed in the past. This was the traditional method of weather forecasting used in the 1930s by meteorologists in Australia, and in other countries such as the United States of America (USA) and the UK. It was not all that different from methods used by the colonial meteorologists Russell, Ellery, Todd and Wragge in the later decades of the 19th century. In the late 1800s Todd published a series of 'typical synoptic weather charts' with which he associated various types of significant weather. This was an early example of aids to analogue forecasting.

People in Bright Sparcs - Ellery, Robert Lewis John; Hunt, Henry Ambrose ; Mares, David John; Russell, Henry Chamberlain; Wragge, Clement Lindley

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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