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Table of Contents

Glimpse of the RAAF Meteorological Service




Chapter 1: Growing Up

Chapter 2: Port Moresby Before Pearl Harbour
Sydney to Port Moresby by DH-86
First Impressions of Port Moresby
Meteorological Office Routine
Flight to Kokoda
Tropical Meteorology
John (Doc) Hogan
Setting up House
We Join the RAAF
A Contrast in Attitudes
Some RAAF History
RAAF No 10 Squadron
RAAF No 11 Squadron
The Catalina Story
Construction of the Seven-mile Airstrip and Reclamation Area
Meteorological Service for the RAAF
Unexpected Vistitors
Our State of Readiness
Our Domestic Situation
A Japanese Surprise Packet
What Had We Meteorologists Achieved?

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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Our State of Readiness

In November 1941 USAF Major-General Brereton visited Port Moresby to assess the state of readiness of facilities for the air force. He reported that construction of the Seven-mile airstrip was lagging and that the weather and terrain would pose problems for air operations. By the first week of December, No 11 Squadron had four Short Empire 'C' Class flying boats and No 20 Squadron had seven Catalinas in Port Moresby. We had also seen three Lockheed Hudsons of No 24 Squadron, commanded by Sqn Ldr Johnny Lerew, fly over Port Moresby and after refuelling at the Seven-mile airstrip, fly on to Rabaul. There were two Hudsons and 11 Wirraways of No 24 Squadron still in Townsville.

The Short Empire 'C' Class flying boats had continued their resupply of the Advanced Operational Bases (AOBs) and they and the Catalinas made regular reconnaissances looking for signs of enemy submarines or other vessels.

Our Domestic Situation

During 1941 Audrey had been making regular visits to Dr May, a genial, caring civilian medico whose rooms were in the town. The birth of our first child was expected in October 1941. The only hospital in Papua was a house on the edge of the town near the corner of Pandora Crescent. It was obviously quite primitive and I doubted that it had the facilities to cope with any major complication that may arise. Sid Preston, our RAAF medico, would no doubt assist if required, but the RAAF had only a simple field hospital. Keith Hannay had been very ill in the Pandora Crescent hospital earlier in 1941, having developed a severe attack of pneumonia, which in those days was a more serious illness than it is today.

As the expected time of Audrey's confinement approached we were disturbed to hear that a case of septicaemia had occurred in the hospital, this infectious disease being highly contagious. We were relieved when a nearby small house was converted into a temporary hospital and the retired matron of the hospital, Elsie Lewis, was persuaded to work in the temporary premises. Audrey was her only patient and we later visited her at her home on the road at Ela Beach. I remember that she had some remarkable photographs of Rabaul harbour during the spectacular volcanic eruption in the 1930s, an eruption which has been repeated quite recently.

People in Bright Sparcs - Hannay, Alexander Keith (Keith)

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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
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