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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
Trevor Donald Tells It All; Life in the Bureau from 1947 to 1989
Ray Clarke Looks Back
Some Memories from Ralph Bulloch
Peter Copland Works in Meteorological Electronics
Some Titbits from Dave Grainger
A Very Modest Tale from Alf Svensson
Adrian Porter Pulls No Punches
Jack Tait Recalls
Some Stories by Colourful Freddie Soutter
Some Snippets from Noel Barrett
Stephen CourbÍt Has His Penny Wworth
And a Flyspeck or Two from Lenny Dawson
Some Interesting Reminiscences from Jannes Keuken
Brief Stories from Phil Black
From Gloria West, Wife of the Late Bob West
The Life and Bureau Times of Graham Linnett
Tales Out of School from Bill Hite
Peter Copland on Cyclone Tracy
Peter Broughton Tells the Story of Maralinga

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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Trevor Donald Tells It All; Life in the Bureau from 1947 to 1989 (continued)

We remained at Lae until late 1950. During this period I visited patrol stations at Telefomin, Vanimo, Angoram, Goroka and Chimbu for periods of one to two weeks to instruct Patrol Officers in the preparation of synoptic weather observations, etc.

When I went to Angoram, which is on the Sepik River and well inland, I was staying with the District Officer, Ralph Ormsby, a very large gentleman and known to the local natives as 'The Big Bel Kiap'. Also staying with the District Officer was an artist, William Dobell, who was working on a commission for Qantas. I believe that his sketches were to be used to promote the Qantas 'Bird of Paradise' service between Australia and New Guinea.

The chap that I was teaching to carry out the various synoptic observations was a retired pre-WWII Patrol Officer known as 'Sepik Robbie'. On retirement he had settled at Angoram and opened a trade store. He was a very interesting man.

It must have been 1950 when I visited Telefomin Patrol Station, the station having only been open for a comparatively short time when I was flown in. The location has something of a history. This part of the valley was formed like a natural airstrip and during WWII it became an emergency landing field for aircraft damaged during bombing raids on Wewak and other targets. A glider was flown in to Telefomin with a pocket-sized bulldozer which was used to improve the surface of the emergency landing field. The bulldozer was still there in the Kanai grass at the side of the airstrip.

Telefomin is about 1500 metres above mean sea level, quite close to the border of Papua and then Dutch New Guinea, and is virtually located between the headwaters of the Fly and Sepik Rivers. When I arrived two Patrol Officers and about a dozen Native Police were in residence. About twelve months after my visit a patrol was attacked during the early morning hours. The Patrol Officer was killed and, if my memory is correct, so were a couple of the Native Police.

During 1950 we were transferred to Port Moresby for about six months prior to taking up appointment to the weather office at Honiara in the British Solomon Islands Protectorate.

We spent approximately two years in the Solomons prior to going south for recreation leave. During that period our eldest son was born at Honiara on 3 March 1953. My duties included the recruitment of indigenous Solomon Islanders and their training as weather observers and later as teleradio operators. In all, my predecessor Ted Tindale and I set up and trained staff at five outstations including Vanikoro in the Santa Cruz group, some hundreds of kilometres to the south-east.

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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
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