Page 426
Previous/Next Page
Federation and MeteorologyBureau of Meteorology
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


Contact us

RAAF Meteorologists Under Threat of Japanese Advance (continued)

After completion of our training course in September 1940, Bryan Rofe and I had applied for a joint posting anywhere in Australia, as long as we were together. He was posted to Perth, I to Port Moresby. Later Bryan and Arch Shields (who was also a member of our 1940 training course) were posted to the RAAF base at Koepang on the island of Timor. When the Japanese invaded the island on 20 February Arch and Bryan tossed a coin to see who would occupy the one vacant place remaining on the last Hudson to depart. Bryan remained, in charge of a party of RAAF personnel and for 58 days led them through an amazing series of close encounters with the Japanese, culminating in their night-time rescue by a US Navy submarine which returned them to Perth. The story of Bryan's heroic exploits (for which he was awarded the OBE) has been told by Piper (1991) and Joyce (1993).

The gloomy situation was made worse by the assault on Darwin, on 19 February 1942, by Admiral Nagumo's task force of 188 fighters and bombers used on the attack on Pearl Harbour, supported by 34 land-based bombers. The destruction of many naval and merchant ships, 23 aircraft and the death of 238 military personnel and civilians rendered the north coast of Australia virtually defenceless. I remember the impact of this raid on Brian Mullen, one of the officers of station HQ Port Moresby, who learnt that his two sisters, who worked in the Darwin Post Office, were among those who died when their office received a direct hit from a Japanese bomb.

Neil MacRae, a meteorologist from the Bureau's 1937 forecasters' course, suffered a near miss from a Japanese bomb which exploded close to a slit trench in which he was sheltering, but emerged to carry on in a precarious situation. At this time Sumatra and Java had been occupied by the Japanese.

Bergamini (1982) describes how Admiral Yamamoto and General Yamashita urged the invasion of north Australia based on plans for the drive by a Division of Japanese troops down the north-south road to Adelaide and Melbourne. There is no doubt that the Japanese could have taken Darwin and established a major base there. Emperor Hirohito personally vetoed the proposal. Japanese planners gave priority to the occupation of Port Moresby and Townsville.

People in Bright Sparcs - Joyce, John; Rofe, Bryan; Shields, Archibald John

Previous Page Bureau of Meteorology Next Page

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