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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)

The American Army Fifth Air Force had a considerable meteorological presence near Port Moresby at that time, although its move to Nadzab was imminent, and we had some contact with their officers. I was amused one day when I heard a discreet cough as I had my head down examining the isobaric chart. Looking up, I noticed a US Navy pilot, who asked me could he have a forecast next day for a trip in his Coronado flying boat to Noumea. When I asked would he rather have a forecast from his own folk, he said he knew of no American forecasters in the area. On my pointing out the presence of the Fifth Air Force people, he said 'Army? No thank you! I would like your forecast!'.

In February 1944 I was posted from Port Moresby to No 71 Wing on Goodenough Island, where our weather office served three squadrons of Beauforts—Nos 6, 8 and 100—as well as some flights around the region by aircraft of the transport squadrons. At the beginning the Beauforts carried out strikes on Japanese positions in New Britain, and performed regular weather reconnaissance flights which also doubled as supply drops to spotters located in lonely spots on small islands occupied by the Japanese to make radio reports about enemy activities. I shared with my forecasting colleagues, Flight Lieutenant Errol Mizon, our officer-in-charge, and Flying Officer George Powell, the briefing of crews for strikes, and frequently when off-duty, flew on reconnaissance. Beaufort aircraft were not very comfortable, and had an indifferent reputation with some personnel, but I enjoyed the experience of being with my friends in aircrews. I confess to never liking low flying, particularly when the captain flew in low over a jungle location to drop a bundle of supplies through the chute of the aircraft, but it was an essential task. Not so essential was the habit of a flight commander from No 8 Squadron, who flew at about 50 feet above the Bismarck Sea, to put down the nose of the aircraft quite suddenly and blaze away with his front guns at some imaginary object. He would then turn to me as I sat on a step to his right and say, with a wicked grin, 'Sharks!'. I suppose he hoped that I would be deathly pale, but my Atebrin yellow did not change.

People in Bright Sparcs - McRae, John Neil; 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

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
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