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Table of Contents

War History of the Australian Meteorological Service




Chapter 1: D.Met.S.—Australia's Wartime Weather Service

Chapter 2: The Weather Factor in Warfare

Chapter 3: Met in the Retreat

Chapter 4: Met in the Advance
Port Moresby to Milne Bay
New Pacific Stations
9 Operational Group
10 Operational Group
Northern Command
First Tactical Air Force
Labuan Island
The End in Singapore

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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Chapter 4: Met in the Advance

Port Moresby to Milne Bay

When the tide of Japanese invasion reached its fullest in late 1942 Australia was left with Port Moresby as its solitary remaining large base in the Pacific islands.

In common with the other service establishments at Port Moresby, the meteorological section was operating at this time under more or less constant air-raiding. The met office had originally been under the charge of Mr (later Sqn Ldr) J. (Doc) Hogan at Kila Kila aerodrome, about three miles from the township. Forecasting had earlier been chiefly for civilian aircraft engaged in the Rabaul-Sydney, via ports, service, but late in 1939 the service was expanded to cover Air Force requirements with the arrival in Port Moresby of 11 Squadron. This was the first RAAF operational unit in the Papua-New Guinea area. In 1941 20 Squadron joined the original unit, both operating Catalina flying boats from the base near the township. In February 1942 the meteorological office was moved from Kila Kila to the RAAF station headquarters at the bay. The transfer enabled meteorological officers to take an effective part in planning the operational flights that were by then extending as far afield as the Japanese naval base at Truk Forecasts also were supplied for United States B-17 (Flying Fortress) and B-24 (Liberator) aircraft on the Wake Island-Port Moresby-Darwin route, as well as for RAAF Hudsons striking at Kapingamarangi (Greenwich) Island.

Soon after the enemy occupation of Rabaul, the Catalinas commenced frequent night attacks on the town and harbour with meteorological officers briefing the crews before and after each raid, but by April 1942 Japanese bombing of Port Moresby became so severe that it was decided to transfer the flying boat squadrons to Townsville. One enemy raid caused considerable damage to the station headquarters buildings, making it necessary to transfer all sections to the police barracks, and in May came another move—temporary in nature and caused by the increasing gravity of the situation before the Coral Sea battle. This time it was to the 'Seven Mile' aerodrome.

The Japanese units advancing over the Owen Stanley Range from Buna and Gona were turned back, but it was at Milne Bay that the enemy suffered his first real land defeat to which the two RAAF squadrons contributed substantially. This was a turning point in the war in the Pacific.

In November 1942 Australian military forces re-entered Kokoda and, through the introduction of large scale supply dropping from the air, were able to advance steadily down the northern slopes of the range until they eventually pinned the enemy down at Buna, Gona and Sanananda. Australia had no RAAF transport squadrons at the time, but we were able to cooperate with Americans in this work by impressing civil aircraft from the mainland supplemented by RAAF Hudsons brought from as far afield as Victoria. This period of the advance also marked the first use of our attack squadrons whose Bostons and Beaufighters continually harried the Japanese lines of communication over the mountains as well as their beachheads at Buna and Gona. Meanwhile, two other RAAF squadrons were engaged in general seaward reconnaissance in the Port Moresby and Milne Bay areas.

People in Bright Sparcs - 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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