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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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Attack on MV MacDhui

Another clear memory is of the 61st and 62nd air-raids on 17 and 18 June 1942. On 17 June, MV MacDhui(our much loved supply ship which had brought our provisions from Sydney at monthly intervals in 1941) was unloading aviation spirit when an air-raid warning sounded. The ship proceeded from the wharf to enable it to manoeuvre when it was attacked by 18 Betty bombers, escorted by nine Zeros. The MV MacDhui suffered a direct hit, which penetrated the top deck and exploded in the lounge, killing all therein. Other near misses caused further damage to the vessel. The MV MacDhui returned to the wharf to land the dead and wounded and finish unloading.

When another air-raid warning sounded next morning, MV MacDhui again left the wharf to manoeuvre in the harbour. The same Japanese aircraft again flew at about 20 000ft in steady formation, dropping three sticks of bombs, one of which scored five direct hits on the vessel. I have a vivid memory of seeing a gun-crew on the poop of the vessel firing what appeared to be a Bofors gun at the aircraft which were obviously out of range. There was a blinding flash as a bomb exploded on the poop, killing the entire guncrew. Other bombs in the stick started fires on the vessel and damaged the steering gear. Captain Campbell was blown from the bridge, landing on the boat deck. Despite his injuries, he alerted the engineers to the danger of fires causing an explosion and gave the order to abandon ship. The vessel drifted onto a reef in the harbour, where I saw it rusting but still resting some years after the war. Details of the vessel, its history and the raids are in the magazine Seachest, June 1984, the article being researched by Valerie Thornton and containing the Captain's report of the air-raids. Immediately after the bombing Hugh Bond, our RAAF medical officer, took a boat to the ship to tend the wounded.

The MV MacDhui and its crew performed magnificently. The Japanese bornb displayed an uncanny pin-point accuracy. The 3.7 anti-aircraft battery operating from the top of Tuagaba Hill adjacent to the harbour were unable to deter the Japanese in their steady bombing run, their shells exploding below and behind the formation. I cannot remember any Allied fighter aircraft in Port Moresby at that time. Certainly No 75 Squadron's Kittyhawks had been withdrawn and the USAF Airacobras were not in evidence, although they engaged what appears to be the same Japanese aircraft over Port Moresby on what was the 65th raid on 26 June.

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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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