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Table of Contents

Radio Technical Officers





Chapter 1: The Early Years

Chapter 2: The Training School

Chapter 3: Equipment Installation Records

Chapter 4: The 'Techs' in Antarctica

Chapter 5: The 'Techs' Tell Their Stories

Appendix 1: 'Techs' Roll Call

Appendix 2: Trainee Intakes

Appendix 3: 'Techs' Who Have Served in the Antarctic Region

Appendix 4: Summary of Major Installation Projects

Appendix 5: Summary of Major Equipment Variously Installed at Sites and Maintained by Radio Technical Officers


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Chapter 4: The 'Techs' in Antarctica

The information for this chapter was kindly provided by Adrian Porter, himself no stranger to the perils of the snow and ice, as he will tell you.

Adrian is now, in 1998, Regional Engineering Services Manager (Tasmania and Antarctica) which we all know is a much easier job than living out of a suitcase as he did for many years in the Installation Section of Head Office.

Here is Adrian's contribution which, as those knowing Adrian will expect, is straight to the point, colourful and above all else interesting.

The name used to describe the Bureau's technical staff operating in Antarctica over the last 38 or so years has varied. The best known and enduring name is 'met tech'. Other names used are Radar Mechanic, Senior Observer (Radio), weather 'tech', Electronic Technical Officer, Radio Technical Officer and 'met' Radio Technical Officer.

The first record of a Bureau 'tech' down south was at Macquarie Island in 1958. However, this could be incorrect as it was Stan Dawson and he could have been a Senior Observer and not worked on the radio equipment. Before that time the records are vague; Bureau employees were listed as 'Observers', but no further information was given. (Ed—Appendix 2 shows Stan Dawson as completing his technical training in 1954)

Immediately prior to the formation of the Bureau's Tasmania and Antarctica Region, Antarctic maintenance was supervised by Russ Henry of the Observations and Engineering Branch of Head Office, and before him, by various Head Office engineering staff under Stan Dawson.

Staff from all Regions have been posted to the four Antarctic bases. In the early time the transfers were a temporary posting to the Antarctic field officers pool attached to Head Office. This system worked reasonably well. It could also be used to escape a disliked posting, yet carried a reasonable chance of getting one's preferred posting upon return.

When the Tasmania and Antarctica Region was created postings were then made to the Region. This had some less than desired results with staff being dislocated from their originating Region. In recent times the current posting policy has been for staff to be returned to their previous posting. This has been an improvement and a winner with staff.

There have been some 39 different Bureau or ex-Bureau 'techs' completing winters in Antarctica. The remainder were either externally recruited or Americans serving at Wilkes.

There are only three who have completed four winters but, not necessarily at each of the different bases. They are Eric Szworak, Dave Robertson and Graham Smith. Glen Turner and Paul Chesworth appear to be the only ones to have completed back-to-back winters; a number of Observers have also completed this feat.

A list of 'techs' that have served in the Antarctic and on some of the sub-Antarctic islands is at Appendix 3.

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Clarke, R. 1999 'Stories of the Bureau's Radio Technical Officers from 1948', Metarch Papers No. 14 February 1999, Bureau of Meteorology

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher