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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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Ray Clarke Looks Back (continued)

Installations rolled off the assembly line seemingly without end in the 1960s and 1970s when the Bureau had a good budget.

In September 1969 I installed major instrumentation at Sydney Airport with the assistance of Jim Core and Trevor Donald. Shortly after, in November 1969, Sid Owen and I went to Mildura to permanently site the WF2 radar which had been initially installed by Bob Davis. Always good company, our Sid. We go back a long way. I kept telling him "there's better around the corner, mate", but that's another story.

I must mention the first ever purely Bureau automatic weather station (AWS) installation, in April 1968, by Ray Missen at Cape Wessel in the Northern Territory. Ray was a competent 'tech' and kept himself up-to-date with changes in technology, unlike some of us lazier ones. Lex Patterson went up to Frederick Reef in the Coral Sea not so long after a few bugs had been ironed out and installed the second, followed by 'have cable stripper will travel' Bob Brealey going to Browse Island off the north-west coast in March 1969. Isaac Bugalski went to Marion Reef at about the same time. In all, the first eight AWSs were installed by eight different 'techs'; that's what you call spreading the job around.

My first experience travelling in comparative luxury on board one of the Cape ships, to wit the Cape Morton, was exhilarating. Captain Chesterman, a man of few words but plenty of action, stood no nonsense, but was always approachable. They don't seem to make seaman like him any more, more's the pity.

While my old mate Jim Cornwell installed a WF3 radar on Kangaroo Island, South Australia, in July 1970, I did the same in cold and gloomy Canberra. Not one of my favourite places at any time, and certainly not in July. Reg Stout must have had it in for me, I reckon.

A change of scenery eventuated with my second AWS installation, at remote Lihou Reef in the Coral Sea, in November 1970. We first tried this trip in a WWII landing barge striking 95 km/hr south-east winds and huge swells. After six days at sea we had travelled only about 200 kilometres and everyone on board, including the captain who had tied himself to the wheel and fortified himself with the rum bottle, had had enough. The captain's decision to turn around on the sixth morning was popular but we had problems and nearly foundered. To give anyone who is familiar with these old type LSTs an idea of the conditions, copious quantities of sea water continually broke a good two metres over the top of the front drop-ramp. It then swept across the deck and, luckily, out the stern taking anyone or anything in it's path. Bruce Duck will verify these fun and games, if he has recovered by now.

People in Bright Sparcs - Clarke, Raymond W.; Stout, Reginald William (Reg)

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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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