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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

Chapter 4: Allied Air Force HQ and RAAF Command, Brisbane
General Douglas MacArthur
We Join Allied Air Headquarters, Brisbane
Ralph Holmes
Forecasting Procedure
WAAAFs and Other Staff
Briefing MacArthur & Co
Domestic Affairs
The Yanks Are Coming
Japanese Advance Across Owen Stanley Range
General George C. Kenney
Additional Staff
Staff Arrangements
Long Range Forecast
Investigations into Tropical Meteorology
Analysis Statements
MacArthur's Remarkable Strategy
A New Direction
Tropical Weather Research Bulletin
RAAF Command, Pat Squires and Henry Phillpot

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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Ralph Holmes (continued)

Following his escape from Ambon, when en route by aircraft on a posting from Darwin to Perth, Ralph experienced a Japanese air-raid when his aircraft was refuelling in Broome. In this raid, or another on Broome about this time, Japanese Zeros, fitted with long-range tanks, destroyed 16 Allied aircraft, some of which were flying boats moored off shore. Many lives were lost when the flying boats, carrying civilian refugees evacuated from the Netherlands East Indies, were strafed and sunk. One of these aircraft was a Short Empire 'C' Class flying boat of No 11 Squadron piloted by Bill Purton, who died in the raid. I have fond memories of Bill whom I had met in Port Moresby. He was one of the former Qantas pilots who had joined the RAAF, whom I met in 1941.

Ralph Holmes was a tall, handsome young man of about my age, with sparkling blue eyes and a wry sense of humour. His control of our meteorological section at Allied Air Headquarters was distinguished by leadership by example rather than direction. His pleasant, informal manner created an office in which the distinction between officers and other ranks was barely discernible, with the result that staff respected and admired him and, infected by his enthusiasm, worked diligently and enthusiastically. I found him an extremely pleasant boss and we quickly developed a deep friendship which continued until his death in 1981. One of the traits of his lively personality was an uncanny ability to label people with highly appropriate nicknames. Thus I became 'Boofhead' because I took a large sized cap, Geoff Martin became 'Bombo' because of his liking for wine, Herbie Whittingham became 'Durkin' from a rather bawdy limerick, while we called Ralph 'Homo' (from his surname) or 'Pinhead' because he took a rather small size in caps.

Having spent some time in the tropics, Ralph and I were somewhat emaciated when we first arrived in Brisbane, having endured the debilitating effects of the tropical climate, inadequate diet, and various tropical ailments. Being not too far short of six feet (183cm) tall we weighed closer to nine stone (126 pounds, 56kg) than 10 stone (140 pounds, 64kg). We embarked on a competition to see who could reach 10 stone first. During our lunchtime walks through Brisbane streets we regularly used weighing machines (penny-in-the-slot) to check our progress.

People in Bright Sparcs - Holmes, Ralph Aubrey Edward; Whittingham, Herbert E. (Herb)

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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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