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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 (continued)

In a note provided by Tom Hall he recalls "Australian participation in the atomic weapon tests carried out by the UK in Australia required an additional observational and reporting system along with specialised forecasting services provided by meteorological staff located at the launching sites and at specific down range sites. All the staff movements and site allowances were funded from the Bureau's current year's vote. Despite numerous enquiries whether a special vote of funds would be made for the additional costs associated with the atomic tests the reply was always that it was an ultra-secret project agreed at Prime Ministerial level and costs just had to be met. Despite a further request to the Director that the Prime Ministerial agreement should surely show how the project was to be funded, the request was turned down on the basis that it was too secret to be discussed any further! Consequently the Bureau vote was severely overspent without special Treasury warrant".

Tom's note continues, "the fact that the project was so secret that action could not be taken did not wash with Treasury. With much running for cover in high places, the acting Chief Clerk (Tom Hall) carried the big kick in the pants".

In Reg Stout's memoirs (1996) he tells of his interview with E. W. Timcke in the presence of security men, during which he learnt that he was to proceed to Emu Field (highly secret location of further tests after those at the Monte Bello Islands). E. W. Timcke was obviously most impressed with the need to keep the project top secret. This must have made the task of Harry Ashton and Henry Phillpot most difficult. Knowing the professionalism with which they would have approached their task I am sure they provided the best meteorological advice possible with the data at their disposal.

Some of the evidence given to the Royal Commission by former members of AWRE and other UK personnel involved in the tests suggests that errors occurred because of lack of accuracy of meteorological advice. To me this appears to be shifting the blame away from those who made the calculation of the height which the atomic cloud would reach, ie the AWRE physicists. Harry and Henry were blamed for an error in the forecast of the height of the atomic cloud which they were not responsible for. A case of buck-passing similar to that experienced by Tom Hall.

People in Bright Sparcs - Ashton, Henry Tamblyn (Harry); Hall, Thomas Taylor (Tom); Phillpot, Henry Robert; Stout, Reginald William (Reg); 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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