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Table of Contents

War History of the Australian Meteorological Service




Chapter 1: D.Met.S.—Australia's Wartime Weather Service
Establishment of D.Met.S. War Communication System
New Stations and Services
Censorship and Codes
RAAF Appointments
Organisational Conferences
Pacific Island Weather Stations
Services to the War Room
The Allied Air Meteorological Service
Training of US Personnel
Perth-Colombo Air-route
Wide Pacific Expansion
Closing Years of the War

Chapter 2: The Weather Factor in Warfare

Chapter 3: Met in the Retreat

Chapter 4: Met in the Advance

Chapter 5: Meteorology in Aviation

Chapter 6: Central Forecasting Services

Chapter 7: Met With the Army

Chapter 8: Research and Personnel Training

Chapter 9: Instrumental Development and Maintenance

Chapter 10: Scientific Developments in the RAAF Meteorological Service

Chapter 11: Divisional Bureaux and Their Work

Appendix 1: List of Reports Provided by D.Met.S. for Advances Operational Planning and Other Purposes

Appendix 2: List of Service Personnel RAAF Meteorological Service

Appendix 3: List of Civilian Personnel Who Worked Together with Service Personnel of the RAAF Meteorological Service

Appendix 4: List of Locations at which RAAF Meteorological Service Personnel Served


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New Stations and Services

By the end of June 1940 the administrative changeover was finally complete, the entire weather organisation passing into the administrative control of the Department of Air for the duration of the war. Then followed a series of organising conferences with RAAF, Naval and Army Directorates, and with telegraphic and radio authorities leading to the establishment of additional meteorological stations throughout Australia and the initiation of a communications system covering the enormous area of operations.

In September 1940 arrangements were made for a system of regional broadcasts conveying collective weather information from suitably situated Air Force signals stations to meteorological units at operational and training aerodromes. This system ensured a fast and convenient exchange of information, enabling meteorological personnel engaged in preparing weather maps and forecasts for operational units to give a more efficient service while, at the same time, it avoided the impossible task of providing landline telegraphic facilities to the widely distributed stations concerned.

The first Air Force stations to be provided with weather forecasting units in 1940 were Richmond, Cootamundra and Rathmines, in New South Wales; and Laverton in Victoria. At the same time the existing meteorological sections at Townsville (Qld), Canberra (ACT), Archerfield (Qld), Darwin (NT) and Port Moresby (Papua), which had been established to provide meteorological facilities for civil aircraft, were strengthened and commenced services to RAAF squadrons located at these bases. Shortly afterwards the Air Force station at Pearce (WA) was provided with weather forecasting facilities and before the close of the year a station opened at Alice Springs in central Australia.

Censorship and Codes

Early restrictions on radio communication of weather information in plain language, imposed under national security regulations, made it necessary to suspend the meteorological broadcasts until arrangements had been completed to convert the reports into a suitable cipher. Action had also to be taken to discontinue the transfer of weather information over the network of pedal wireless stations situated in various outlying areas in northern and central Australia and operating through the Australian Aerial Medical Service stations at Cloncurry (Qld), Broken Hill (NSW) and Alice Springs. This service had provided valuable weather information at regular intervals of the day, but because of the worth of the information to the enemy it was necessary to suspend it indefinitely.

A British recoding table was first used to enable the resumption of weather broadcasts but it was early recognised that this would be unable to carry with security the heavy traffic that would be required by Australian internal services. In addition, the fact that the Netherlands East Indies and the Philippine Islands were still neutral prevented the distribution of these tables to those administrations and the restrictions imposed by essential need for secrecy gave rise to many difficulties. These were subsequently overcome by simple but effective regional ciphers designed in D.Met.S. The provision of a code form for use in transmitting weather information between aviation meteorological stations and aircraft in flight was met by an abbreviated code and cipher form drawn up at a conference with the Director of Operations, RAAF, and the Department of Civil Aviation. For the transfer of aviation forecasts between weather stations in Australia, a form of the international code enciphered in the local cipher was authorised.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Directorate of Meteorological Services (D.Met.S)

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Haldane, T. 1997 'War History of the Australian Meteorological Service in the Royal Australian Air Force April 1941 to July 1946', Metarch Papers, No. 10 October 1997, Bureau of Meteorology

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