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Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology


Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology 1929–1946 by Allan Cornish

History of Major Meteorological Installation in Australia from 1945 to 1981 by Reg Stout

Four Years in the RAAF Meteorological Service by Keith Swan
Enlistment in the RAAF, July 1941
Meteorological Observer Training, January-April 1942
Meteorological Observer, May-December 1942
Learning to Forecast, January-July 1943
Forecasting in Victoria, July-October 1943
Tropical Forecasting in New Guinea, October 1943-February 1945
Temperate East Coast Forecasting, February 1945-January 1946
Evaluating the Service

The Bureau of Meteorology in Papua New Guinea in the 1950s by Col Glendinning


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Tropical Forecasting in New Guinea, October 1943-February 1945 (continued)

We were well staffed during my few months at Port Moresby. Flight Lieutenant Allen Bath, a permanent Weather Bureau man, was officer-in-charge, and the two flying officers were Frank Henderson and myself. Frank was an interesting man, a mine of information about Papua and New Guinea because he had been an agricultural officer in New Britain for several years before 1939. Years later he was to become Director of Agriculture in New Guinea, but I never met him again. But I do remember his graphic description of his escape with several others in an open boat after the arrival of the Japanese, their voyage, without navigational aids, ending somewhere in the Ply River delta. From there he returned to Australia, immediately enlisted in the RAAF, and was a member of an earlier forecasters course than No 7. With us at Port Moresby for a time were two supernumerary forecasters whose company I greatly enjoyed, Right Lieutenants Tom Gardiner and J. S. 'Jack' Maher (later Squadron Leader), who had been in charge of mobile flights with the AIF. Tom was a New South Wales teacher like myself, while Jack was a member of the permanent weather service who had played Australian Football with the Melbourne club, and who talked frequently about his great friend, Keith Miller, the famous cricketer, who in 1944 was making a name for himself playing with the RAF in Great Britain. Our work was constant, but at night in the mess we vigorously played table tennis, following that with draughts, Chinese chequers and chess. One of the popular songs at the time was Mr Five by Five, and Jack quickly christened me 'Mr Four by Four'. There was no alcohol in our messes in those days, and no one seemed to miss it much, except those who made jungle juice from odd ingredients. I remember also the pleasant visits we had from the Area Meteorological Officer, Squadron Leader Neil McRae, another permanent officer, a rather slow-moving jovial giant of a man whose company we enjoyed on evenings under a large mango tree outside the officers' mess. I remember little about the observers, except a kindly permanent man, Warrant Officer Pat Sullivan, who as president of the sergeant's mess protected me when I was given the doubtful honour of being officer-in-charge of that mess, a task usually given to one of the very junior officers.

From October 1943 to February 1944 I was able to enjoy the company of two of my younger brothers more frequently than at any time since. Don was an artillery sergeant located out in the southern foothills of the Owen Stanleys, while David was a squadron leader radar officer working with a multi-service Allied unit located near Ward's strip. During these months he was backwards and forwards between Brisbane and Port Moresby; and we took every opportunity to visit Don, who was not so mobile as we were. We had some hilarious times with Don and his companions, taking them in our Jeep to one or other of the many open-air unit cinemas of the US forces.

People in Bright Sparcs - Bath, Allen Tristram; McRae, John Neil; Sullivan, Patrick Joseph; Swan, Keith

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Cornish, A., Stout, R., Swan, K and Glendinning, C. 1996 'Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology', Metarch Papers, No. 8 February 1996, Bureau of Meteorology

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