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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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Perth-Colombo Air-route

The year 1943 also saw the initiation by D.Met.S. of a forecasting organisation for the Perth-Colombo air transport route, which was the longest single hop in the world until the use of Cocos Island made a midway stop practicable. This extremely complex task was made necessary in May when the British Air Ministry decided that it was vital to maintain an Empire air link with Australia and New Zealand. The problem of forecasting for the route involved anticipation of air circulations in two hemispheres—over a distance of more than 3000 miles—but it was successfully undertaken by forecasters of the Directorate in Western Australia and by those of the South-East Asia RAF Command. The first flight was made by Wing Commander Scott of RAF 22nd Group headquarters in Ceylon, on 12 May 1943, to a forecast provided by Sqn Ldr J. (Doc) Hogan, an experienced officer who had gained a close knowledge of tropical meteorology during his three years of service at Port Moresby. Arrangements were made for special weather reports at regular intervals from Cocos Island and for reception of Indian weather reports broadcast from Colombo to ships at sea, but even these provided an extremely slim basis for successful forecasting. It was, however, satisfactorily achieved, leading to several more successful flights and, in July, to a regular service operated by an Australian airline on the behalf of the British Air Ministry. This service was made possible by a complete meteorological and communication organisation arranged by the Directorate, involving the establishment of a RAAF weather station at Cocos Island. It is to the credit of all concerned that in approximately 1,000 crossings between Australia and Ceylon that not one aircraft was lost in three years of operation, although the year 1946 produced one loss on this route.

Wide Pacific Expansion

Another activity of the Directorate which was coming into increasing use throughout all this time was that of mobile meteorological flights attached to the Australian land forces. These had come into operation as far back as April 1941 when an experimental mobile forecasting unit took part in combined exercises arranged by the Southern Command, but as the war advanced their services to Army commands had become more widespread and complex. Each flight comprised a specially trained and equipped team of one forecasting officer and four observers drawn from the staff of the Directorate together with signals and transport personnel provided by the Army. Their duties included provision of wind and temperature ballistic data for the artillery, forecasts of surf for beachheads, forecasts of flood and rain for the engineers, prediction of sea conditions for army small craft, forecasts of cloud and visibility for the bully beef bombers and air support for the infantry. At many bases they were the first or only representatives of the RAAF. Their effective strength at the close of the war was only seven officers and 40 airmen of the RAAF, together with 39 Army men, but they saw service on the trails and beaches of New Guinea, New Britain, Borneo and, in fact, almost everywhere that the AIF fought in the islands. Of all the operational sections in which Australian meteorological men saw service their's was frequently the toughest going and they worthily gained their places on parade when the Japanese Lt Gen Adachi surrendered at Cape Wom on 13 September 1945. The story of the mobile meteorological flights which, throughout the war, operated under the control of the Meteorological Liaison Officer to the Army (Sqn Ldr L. J. Dwyer) is told in a later chapter of this volume.

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

People in Bright Sparcs - Dwyer, Leonard Joseph; Hogan, John (Doc)

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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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