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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
Work in the Meteorological Office
Japanese Land in Rabaul
Catalina and Hudson Operations
First Sight of the Japanese
Japanese Plans for the Invasion of Port Moresby
RAAF Meteorologists Under Threat of Japanese Advance
More Air Raids on Port Moresby
The Story of the Hudson
A Blow to Morale
More Air Raids but No 75 Squadron Kittykawks Arrive
Japanese Attempt to Invade Port Moresby by Sea
Japanese Submarines Attack Sydney
Attack on MV MacDhui
Return to Australia
The Meteorologists' Contribution

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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Japanese Plans for the Invasion of Port Moresby

Having successfully taken Rabaul, the next major objective of the Japanese was the occupation of Port Moresby. They planned to achieve this objective by an amphibious troop landing supported by naval forces (including their highly efficient air arm). This strategy had been eminently successful in taking Rabaul. They needed some airfields closer to Port Moresby to achieve this objective. They wanted land-based fighter protection for daylight bomber raids on Port Moresby. Little did they know that fighter protection would not be needed for some weeks.

It was not long before the Japanese launched air-raids against Gasmata on the south coast of New Britain and against Salamaua and Lae, about 250km north of Port Moresby over the Owen Stanley Range. The Japanese made a successful amphibious landing in Gasmata in bad weather on 9 February despite strenuous opposition by Catalinas and Hudsons.

RAAF Meteorologists Under Threat of Japanese Advance

Meanwhile the news from Malaya and the Netherlands East Indies was discouraging. George Mackey's party of RAAF Meteorological Service personnel had arrived in Singapore on 7 January 1942 to find that RAAF Squadrons which had been located at Kuala Lumpur and other airfields in Northern Malaya had been dislodged by Japanese amphibious landings, followed by a rapid advance down the Malayan peninsula. George Mackey, Keith Hannay (my former OIC at Port Moresby), Doug Forder (my former classmate in the forecasters' training class) and Andy Murfett experienced frequent air-raids. Unable to reach their RAAF Squadrons they joined forces with meteorologists of the RAF in Singapore. The rout of the Allied forces, including the sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse by Japanese aircraft and naval forces, made Singapore untenable and it was surrendered to the Japanese on 15 February 1942. After a series of hair-raising episodes, involving travel by road, train and boat through Sumatra and Java, George, Keith, Doug and Andy found a place on an overloaded cargo ship, arriving at Perth on 2 March 1942. Keith Hannay's story of their adventures has been published as Metarch Papers No 6.

The Japanese occupied the island of Ambon on 31 January 1942. RAAF meteorologist, Ralph Holmes, whom I was to meet in Brisbane in July, had been evacuated to Darwin the previous day on an overloaded Hudson aircraft.

People in Bright Sparcs - Forder, Douglas Highmoor (Doug); Hannay, Alexander Keith (Keith); Holmes, Ralph Aubrey Edward; Mackey, George William; Murfett, A. M. (Andy)

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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