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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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Peter Copland on Cyclone Tracy

Christmas 1974 divided Darwin time into BT (before Tracy) and AT (after Tracy). There would not have been any Darwin resident who would not have been affected in some fairly major way. From the drunk who slept off the Christmas Eve party in a cupboard, only to find, in the morning that his cupboard was the only thing he had left, through, to those who did not get up on Christmas morning.

My first involvement with Tracy was on my return from Tennant Creek on the afternoon of Friday 20 December. I think the WF3 radar needed a pre-Christmas pat. Jack Byrne and his family had taken Christmas leave, so the three of us left (Ian Parsons, Geoff .... and myself) were on our own-some. There was a low pressure area to the north east, but of not much interest to anyone. This changed the next day with the issue of the first cyclone alert. I spent some time checking the WF44 radar.

Things were looking more serious on Sunday 22 December. Spent several hours at the Aviation Museum at East Point. Dragged around several aero-engines, searchlights and other heavy objects to try to tie down the aeroplanes and bits thereof; I like to think that the B25 now in the Darwin Aviation Museum is there because of two engines and a searchlight tied to it that Sunday.

Monday 23 December. Tracy was still west of Bathurst Island and nothing much was happening. The weather in Darwin seemed rather normal; hot and plenty of sun. Everyone was finishing their shopping and going to their parties and drinks with their mates. Mention of the approach of a cyclone was met with a certain amount of disdain; "cyclones don't effect Darwin. Look at that one a few weeks back, all that scare-mongering for nothing". We were quite busy checking as much of our equipment as possible.

Tuesday 24 December and Tracy was now heading slowly for Darwin. One of our neighbours in Fannie Bay, one Ian MacRaild and family, and ourselves owned camper vans. By midday they were loaded with clothes, kids' Christmas presents and some Christmas dinner, and were buried in a machine workshop at the Darwin High School, where Ian was a senior master. Still, no one was terribly worried, and preparations for the Bureau's Christmas party were going ahead as normal. I guess I must have been a bit of a dampener for the party.

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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

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