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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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Pacific Island Weather Stations

The field activities of the organisation developed rapidly during 1941. In addition to continental development, weather stations at three RAAF advanced operational bases in the Pacific—at Tulagi (Solomons group), Vila (New Hebrides) and Noumea (New Caledonia)—were established during the middle months of 1941. Additional advanced operational meteorological stations followed during the latter months of 1941 at Koepang (Timor), Ambon (Ceram), and Namlea (Ceram) and, following on inspections in Malaya by the Director, fully equipped RAAF weather units were sent to Malayan air stations to serve the RAAF squadrons at Sembawang, Khota Baru and Kuala Lumpur. These developments involved organisation of a network of wireless channels based on Townsville and Darwin to supply meteorological data, so that these advanced weather stations did not commence complete independent services for RAAF reconnaissance and transport operations until November, about a month before the simultaneous Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbour, Malaya, Thailand, the Philippine Islands and China. Nor were they destined for a long career. So swift and in such strength was the enemy advance in the islands that it became necessary for the RAAF to evacuate the Tulagi station soon afterwards, a fate that also came about the same time to the stations established at the northern advanced operational bases at Namlea, Ambon and Koepang.

With their comrades from other sections of the RAAF stationed at these outposts, weather men shared the discomforts and dangers of the attacks and retreats. Their story is told in later chapters.

Similarly, the party of Australian meteorological officers and airmen which left in December 1941 to provide a weather service for our squadrons fighting in Malaya had a brief stay and, after further service at Sumatra and Java, escaped the enemy by the narrowest of margins. They arrived back in Australia by a tramp steamer from Batavia on 2 March 1942.

In August 1942, with the arrival of American weather units in the South Pacific theatre, responsibility for meteorological services at Vila and Noumea was transferred from D.Met.S., RAAF, to the weather service of the American command in the South Pacific and the Australian weather men returned home. Port Moresby was left as the sole remaining RAAF meteorological station in the Pacific islands area, since the observing station at Salamaua had also been evacuated in the face of the Japanese landing at that point on 8 March 1942.

Within Australia, however, organisation and establishment of new weather stations and services had in the meantime been urgently progressing. During early 1942 forecasting stations were established at Parkes (NSW), Mount Gambier (SA), Amberley (Qld), Geraldton (WA) and Nhill (Vic), with an observing and interpreting establishment at Deniliquin (NSW). Preparations were completed for regional meteorological broadcasts from Laverton (Vic), Pearce (WA), Amberley (Qld) and Townsville (Qld), each serving the weather stations and advanced operational bases in their relevant areas. An area meteorological office was established within the RAAF Northern (later North-Eastern) Area at Townsville, with Sqn Ldr A. C. White MC, as first officer in charge. Duties allocated to the area office were the coordination of weather services within the area from established and projected operational stations, cooperation with the signals authorities to provide satisfactory meteorological communications facilities, and the provision of advisory weather services for operational planning by the area commander. Inspections and recommendations concerning weather stations required within the area to meet emergencies were also made the responsibility of this officer.

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

People in Bright Sparcs - White, Arthur Charles

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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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