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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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Long Range Forecast (continued)

In Port Moresby I had been impressed by the predominantly diurnal variation in weather. Fog and low cloud were frequently experienced in inland valleys (such as the Markham) in the early morning but usually dispersed soon after sunrise. As the sun rose ground temperatures increased and small cumulus developed on the ranges. These grew rapidly as the day progressed so that by noon the small cumulus had grown to towering thunderheads which spread into the valleys in the afternoon with heavy rain. Towards dusk when the land surface had cooled, cloud development usually ceased and during the night generally dispersed except for low cloud and fog in inland valleys. We framed our 'forecast' accordingly and Ralph delivered it next day to General Kenney, stressing that our expectation was that, from a consideration of the weather, the most suitable time for a paratroop raid on Nadzab was about 10am.

The 9th Division of the AIF, of which Ralph's brother was a member, made a successful amphibious assault near Lae on 4 September 1943. The Allied Air Force had made saturation bombing raids on all Japanese air bases in New Guinea, New Britain and the islands to the north with particular emphasis on the aerodromes at Lae, Rabaul and Nadzab. Next day US paratroops landed in the Markham Valley in weather predicted in our 'forecast'. MacArthur and Kenney used their advanced HQ in the Administrator's official residence in Port Moresby on that occasion and flew as passengers in a Flying Fortress (B-17) to view the paratroop drop. We were lucky that the climate of New Guinea at that time of the year is such that the diurnal pattern is repeated with little change from day to day for much of the time.

Investigations into Tropical Meteorology

I had been interested in investigating our techniques of synoptic analysis since first arriving in Brisbane. In off-duty hours I prepared a summary of the air-mass and frontal analysis techniques which I had used in Port Moresby and Brisbane and submitted it in 1942 as a MSc thesis to the geography department of the University of Sydney. That was the only department of the University whose curriculum included the subject of meteorology, although the curriculum of the mathematics department did include hydrodynamics. At that time, geography was the most relevant department, providing tuition in the synoptic study of the earth and its atmosphere—a useful background subject for a meteorologist.

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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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