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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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Temperate East Coast Forecasting, February 1945-January 1946

It was a great day for me when I left Aitape early in February 1945, and travelled right through to Brisbane in one day in three hops, avoiding the necessity for staying in transit camps at Finschhafen and Townsville. The middle stage to Townsville was undertaken at above 15 000 feet to avoid the tops of cumulonimbus clouds, and we absolutely froze, I being so gentlemanly as to lend my field jacket to an American nursing sister. The good thing was that I was to have leave for the first time in almost 18 months. After the long flight I was happy to spend a night at Archerfield aerodrome, before travelling by train to our family home south of Newcastle.

After several weeks of leave, before I had used up all of my accumulation, I was posted to No 14 OBU Detachment A. I was dumbfounded on receiving the telegram, imagining that I must be going back to the tropics, but No 14 OBU was at Lowood in the Brisbane Valley, and its Detachment A was at Charleville. There I spent about two months, relieving each of the forecasters for three weeks. That was the practice in our sections, because it was possible only for a professional forecaster to relieve. The airport was extensive, as in 1943 it had accommodated many American bombers which flew to Northern Queensland airstrips before performing strikes in the New Guinea area and then returning to base. By my time there were only about 35 of us, mostly meteorological personnel with a few support staff. It was a busy office just for weather observation, and we had very sophisticated equipment, including radiosonde facilities. There were also many aircraft movements from Brisbane and Sydney to Darwin, as well as the invaluable Flying Doctor Service. There were American, Dutch and Australian aircraft, both service and civil, and their main concerns were the incidence of local fog in the early morning at Charleville, and the height at which the wind changed. During the April-October season it was possible in that region to fly to Darwin and back with a following wind, because at about 10 000 feet the direction changed from south-east to something between west and north-west. The readings from our pilot balloon flights invariably indicated the critical level, but otherwise in that season the weather was fine and clear, except that the serious drought conditions of 1944–45 sometimes whipped up serious dust storms which penetrated well into Queensland. I well remember one day a Dutch pilot of a B-25 returning to Charleville from near Longreach because the visibility by his definition was 'pisspa'.

People in Bright Sparcs - 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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