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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

Chapter 5: Meteorology in Aviation

Chapter 6: Central Forecasting Services
General Reorganisation for War
Security and Censorship
Code and Cipher Development
National Synoptic Broadcasts
Services to Armed Forces
Services to Private Industry

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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Services to Armed Forces


Earlier in this volume some explanation has been made of the way weather science is used by ships at sea to aid in planning strategic movement. To obtain this information, naturally, reports must reach the ships of meteorological conditions in, and contiguous to, their area of operations; in addition bulletins and advices for special naval purposes must be compiled by a central weather organisation and communicated to the vessels through service channels.

One of the first wartime requests from the Navy was for the normal weather service to be supplemented by daily detailed information and forecasts covering the eastern and south-eastern coastal area from Cape Capricorn, in Queensland, to Cape Catastrophe, in South Australia. For this task the coastal area so contained was divided, for forecast purposes, into seven distinct sections, for each of which predictions of wind, weather, cloud, visibility, state of sea and swell were provided at intervals of six hours. This service commenced in September 1939, and continued throughout the war.

In January of the following year arrangements were made for daily weather forecasts to be supplied to the Naval authorities at Port Melbourne, while in July 1941 the Directorate commenced issuing special weather reports and analyses of wind speeds for mine sweeping operations.

Earlier in 1941 the British Admiralty had submitted a scheme for brief area forecasts in figure code designed for use by ships not carrying trained meteorologists, but, after discussion with the Australian Naval authorities, it was decided not to put the plan into operation because it was considered unsuitable for naval requirements at the time. However, in August, representations were made by naval squadrons operating in the Indian Ocean for the provision of short synoptic weather messages catering for their operational area, so that, after discussion with RAAF and naval signals, authorisation was given for a fleet synoptic broadcasting station at Perth. This station did not actually come into operation until February 1942, due to difficulties in obtaining wireless equipment, but when established provided two synoptic broadcasts daily—at 0730 and 1930 Greenwich Mean Time.

Other extensions of meteorological services to the Navy that year included a system of broadcast cyclone warnings for the Queensland coast, commenced in December through the district naval officer, Townsville; weather reports and forecasts for special operations between Kangaroo Island and Sydney; twice daily area forecasts to the combined operations war room for all regions 300 to 500 miles from the Australian coast and from our advanced bases in New Guinea and the Solomons. The last mentioned service covered forecasts of weather, cloud types and heights, visibility, state of sea and swell: it commenced in December 1941 and continued until the war room and combined operations moved from Melbourne to Brisbane, when provision of similar information was taken over by the meteorological section at RAAF Command.

During 1942 two more important developments occurred, so far as naval meteorological services were concerned. In February a conference was held to discuss services to be provided to the American naval units that were operating in the vicinity of Australia, on which occasion it was arranged for copies of Australian codes and ciphers, together with schedules of broadcasts and other meteorological activities to be made available to the United States Navy.

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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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