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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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General George C. Kenney

We in the meteorological section of Allied Air Forces Headquarters had been delighted with the arrival of General George Churchill Kenney to take command of these forces from General Brett on 26 July 1942, shortly after our arrival in Brisbane. We had no direct contact with General Brett but Kenney was a different kettle of fish. He was conscious of the vital importance of weather in the development of aerial strategy and tactics and frequently sought our advice. A short sturdy figure with close cropped hair and a relaxed but vital appearance, he radiated confidence and told us early in 1943 that it was only a matter of time before the Japanese would be overcome. He explained that their lines of supply from Japan to the theatre of battle were too long and their Air Force and Navy were losing many of their experienced officers, airmen and seamen, with the result that they could not adequately protect their lines of supply from attack.

At this time MacArthur had made the decision to avoid frontal attacks on major Japanese bases such as Rabaul. His strategy was to by-pass such bases by occupying other positions in the New Guinea area as stepping stones to the Philippines and Japan.

General Kenney employed effective tactics in the battle of the Bismarck Sea, fought in the waters between New Guinea and New Britain on 15 March 1943. The Japanese were moving a force of troops in barges along the north coast of New Britain with the intention of landing them at Lae and Salamaua to reinforce their troops in the Markham Valley, west of Lae. Weather was of great importance in planning air attack on these barges and our meteorological section provided useful information.

Kenney was not the only person who sought our advice on likely weather conditions. Among the others was a cheerful, flamboyant pilot of a USAF Lightning reconnaissance aircraft called 'Pappy' or 'Poppa' Palifca, who was eager for advice on the best time to fly his aircraft to secure photographs of the Japanese force which was protected by cruisers and destroyers. Kenney's strategy was successful when USAF and RAAF aircraft destroyed the barges and some of the naval vessels, defeating the Japanese attempt to reinforce their troops. In June 1943 MacArthur and Kenney wanted a forward base closer to the battle-front and established an advanced headquarters in the Administrator's official residence in Port Moresby, the same large weatherboard building which Gordon Elliot and I and a few other officers had established as a comfortable adjunct to the officers' mess.

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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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