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Table of Contents

Memories of the Bureau, 1946 to 1962





Chapter 1: The Warren Years, 1946 to 1950

Chapter 2: International Meteorology

Chapter 3: The Timcke Years, 1950 to 1955
A Period of Consolidation
Aviation Services
Services for the General Public
Rockets and Atomic Weapons
Instruments and Observations
Climate and Statistics
International Activities
Central Analysis and Development
The Universities
The Meteorology Act
Achievements of the Timcke Years

Chapter 4: A Year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Chapter 5: The Dwyer Years, 1955 to 1962

Chapter 6: A Springboard for the Future

Appendix 1: References

Appendix 2: Reports, Papers, Manuscripts

Appendix 3: Milestones

Appendix 4: Acknowledgements

Appendix 5: Summary by H. N. Warren of the Operation of the Meteorological Section of Allied Air Headquarters, Brisbane, 1942–45



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Rockets and Atomic Weapons

When the Woomera Rocket Range was established by the Australian Department of Supply, Weapons Research Establishment, in 1947 there is little doubt that UK defence scientists saw it as a testing ground for military weapons. Those in AWRE obviously believed that the largely unpopulated desert regions of central Australia would be an ideal place to test atomic weapons.

George Trefry was in charge of the meteorological office at Woomera and arranged meteorological observations and supplied meteorological forecasts and other advice to Australian and English defence scientists, much of which, because of security considerations, was confidential, secret, top secret or even more secret still. The dictum of supplying information only to those with 'a need to know' made good sense.

Testing of rockets required much meteorological information because the performance of rocket vehicles could be affected by temperature, wind and turbulence in the upper air. Some of the tracking of rocket vehicles was done by visual means so that cloudiness was an important element in rocket trials. Double theodolite pilot balloon observations were used to measure upper winds because radar wind-finding was not fully operational in the 1950s.

A history of the testing of nuclear weapons in Australia is revealed in the Report of the Royal Commission by McClelland, Fitch and Jonas (1985). This report (a public document kindly lent to me by Henry Phillpot) makes a frank assessment of what the Royal Commissioners concluded from the evidence of those involved in the trials, whether members of the UK team conducting the trials, those Australians assisting them or those others who wished, or were persuaded, to give testimony. Some of the AWRE staff were reluctant to give evidence but as the Royal Commission reports, were finally persuaded to do so.

People in Bright Sparcs - Phillpot, Henry Robert; Timcke, Edward Waldemar

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Gibbs, W. J. 1999 'A Very Special Family: Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology 1946 to 1962', Metarch Papers, No. 13 May 1999, Bureau of Meteorology

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
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