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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 Broughton Tells the Story of Maralinga

Maralinga is on the Tietkin Plains, about 80 kilometres north of Watson, a siding and fettlers' base on the transcontinental railway. A group of a thousand gathered in this desolate region to carry out a series of tests financed by the British Government with Australia principally playing the role of caretaker. This group was made up of members of the Australian, Canadian and English Services, civilians from the Division of Atomic Energy at Aldermaston in England, the Department of Supply and members of the Bureau of Meteorology in England and Australia. The four trials conducted during the Buffalo series were: One Tree, Marcoo, Kite and Breakaway.

Prohibited area

Sign at Maralinga Atomic Weapons Test Range

It was my first posting after completing the Bureau's Observer (Radio) training course, a task divided between the Radio Laboratory under Bill Brann and the Training School under Kevin Lomas. I can still remember the names of some of my fellow students, Ray Missen, whose parents were farmers, Leo Conlon just arrived from Ireland with a long background in the merchant service and Charlie Holman who previously worked with DCA in Western Australia. The Radio Laboratory was then located at Head Office in Drummond Street, Carlton. We were introduced to the mysteries of radiosonde and gas making there. Radiosondes were actually released from the flat roof of the building, sometimes narrowly missing traffic if there happened to be a downdraught along Victoria Street. The observational aspects of the course were conducted in the Central Training School annex a short distance away. After completing the course I went on to the RAEME Barracks in Batman Street for indoctrination on the AA3 Mk VII radar with Reg Stout, Tom Sleath and Roger Catchpole. Tom and Roger were scheduled to go to Giles and I went to Maralinga. I only met up with them again in brief conversation over the radio communication link between Maralinga and Giles.

Before taking up our posts in August we were invited to farewell suppers at Dick Cohen's house by way of a visit to a famous wine bar in Lygon Street, and later to the house of Vic Bahr who had just returned from a visit to Geneva. Dick was a connoisseur of red wine and we soon warmed to the atmosphere at Watson's. It was quite late when Dick Cohen reminded us that his wife was waiting with dinner and, being well over 0.05, gave me his car keys. We proceeded much like the Keystone Cops through the streets of Melbourne. Dick had to frequently break off his conversation with passengers on the back seat to redirect the car, and often he would be too late for I had already passed the necessary turn. 'Shorty' Carrol who was jammed between Roger and Tom in the back seat of the car punctuated this noisy conversation with repeated cries of "stop at the next urinal driver please". We eventually arrived at a corner house with a diagonal path lined with standard roses. Unfortunately, it was Dick's roses that suffered in consequence. The evening wound up after repeated sorties into the grate to retrieve carpet bowls from the hot ash of a roaring fire.

People in Bright Sparcs - Bahr, Victor John; Brann, Harold Walter Allen Neale (Bill); Lomas, K. C. (Kev); 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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