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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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Closing Years of the War (continued)

A similar hard assignment was the advice given a month ahead for the Allied landing east of Lae and simultaneously for the first use of paratroops in the area. This presented a particularly difficult task, not only because of the lead time of the forecast, but because of the combination of weather conditions needed for success. If, as often happens at that time of the year, there had been low overcast cloud, it would have suited the amphibious operation but not the parachute landing, while clear conditions would mean provision of strong air cover for both the sea convoy and the paratroops. Largely on consideration of the behaviour of the upper winds that season the forecasters predicted good weather and registered a bullseye. Both operations proved successful.

Advice and forecasts to the Navy from the GHQ weather unit were frequent in these years, when shipping was just as important to the Allies as aircraft, and almost as scarce. To send one ship, say, to Milne Bay in clear weather was simply asking for its destruction, so that the meteorological men were required to advise Naval authorities when such important island bases would be closed in by weather for an extended period, enabling discharging to go on without interruption from Japanese Air Force units based in the Solomons and New Britain.

By late in 1944, however, with the front line moving steadily away from Australia, the nature of the work at GHQ weather section had changed, allowing more attention to be given to research. In the Pacific island weather stations, on the other hand, the tempo was increasing rapidly.

From the nucleus of three RAAF weather men formed at Port Moresby in January 1944, the 10 Operational Group meteorological section grew to extend through Nadzab (New Guinea), Cape Gloucester (New Britain), Tadji (New Guinea), Hollandia (Dutch New Guinea), Noemfoor Island and Morotai Island (Halmaheras)—at the latter, incidentally, cooperating with the advanced headquarters of RAAF Command in plans for the invasion of Borneo in June and July of 1945. By that time 10OG had become First Tactical Air Force.

A completely mobile weather section, fully equipped with supplies for six months, left Morotai Island in the second convoy for Labuan Island on D Day for Borneo (10 June 1945) and, arriving during the actual naval bombardment, commenced operations a few days later. By 15 August, when the Japanese surrendered, a D.Met.S. weather station also was operating at Tarakan, and at Balikpapan, Australian meteorological staff were working in conjunction with NEI Army weather men.

Altogether, by this time, the operational strength of D.Met.S. had grown to 212 officers, 289 meteorological assistants and 300 meteorological charters—compared with 69 permanent officers and 86 assistants who joined the RAAF at the transfer of the weather organisation to the control of the Department of Air. Operational stations had increased from 34 to 98—including many of a highly mobile nature—and developmental sections had been established and extended for research into tropical and temperate weather formations.

Not long afterwards disbandment commenced at a large number of centres, although a party of volunteer weather men moved to Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force and two other members of D.Met.S. proceeded to Singapore on temporary duty.

Demobilisation was completed on 30 June 1946, when the Commonwealth meteorological organisation returned to the Department of the Interior.

Reverting to civil control

Reverting to civil control on 1 July 1946. Left to right are Flight Lieutenant R. Hodgins, Wing Commander E. W. Timcke, Group Captain H. N. Warren and Flight Sergeant J. Napthali (Photograph courtesy of The Age) Australian War Memorial negative no. 044698

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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