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Personal Notes

Mr. B. W. Newman
Retirement of Walter Dwyer
Gerry O'Mahony—Thirty Years On
The Retoubtable George Mackey, Retd.
Retirement of ADR [Neil McRae]
A Long and Fruitful Innings [John Lillywhite]
Pat Ryan Retires
Harry Ashton Retires
'Fly Boy' Retires [Bill Brann]
Our Actor Steve [Lloyd]
Our Man in the Region Retires [Keith Hannay]
ADM Retires [Allen Bath]
Regional Director Queensland Retires [Arch Shields]
ANMRC Head Retires [Reg Clarke]
Vic Bahr's Last Bow
Long Serving Officers Retire [Jack Maher and Kev Lomas]
Allan Brunt Retires, 38 Years in 'the Met'
Henry Phillpot Retires
A Stout With a Dash! [Reg Stout]
Around the Regions [Keith Stibbs]
Bill Smith Bows Out—47 Year Record
Smooth Traffic Ahead for Keith Henderson
Happy Retirement, and Happy Birthday too! [Ralph de la Lande]
Air Dispersion Specialist Calls it a Day [Bill Moriarty]
Bob Crowder Retires
Grass Looks Greener for Tony [Powell]
Farewell France [Lajoie]
Forty Four Years in Meteorology—John Burn Remembers
Des Gaffney bows out
After Only 41 Years . . . Shaw, Enough! [Peter Shaw]
Brian Bradshaw departs, 45 Years On . . .
Bill Ware Ends on a High Note
Peter Barclay Retires
Mal Kennedy Retires
'The Ice Man Goeth . . .' DDS Neil Streten Calls it a Day
Dan of the 14,016 Days [Dan Lee]
A Launceston Boy Gone Wrong: Peter Noar Bows Out
It's Official—Climate Change Confirmed [Bill Kininmonth]
Victorian Forecasting Legend Bids Us Farewell [Ian Russell]
Gentleman Doug Gauntlett Retires
Queensland Regional Director Calls it a Day [Rex Falls]
Assistant Director (Services) Retires and Tributes Flow In [Bruce Neal]
NSW Regional Director Retires [Pat Sullivan]


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Forty Four Years in Meteorology—John Burn Remembers

No. 297 July 1991

John Burn's retirement as principal Technical Officer in the Queensland Regional Office is recorded elsewhere in this issue of Weather News (see page 30). John served the Bureau for 27 years, after 17 years previous service with the UK Meteorological Office. He has kindly provided the following account of his working life, which will be of interest to all those who have made meteorology their career.

Talking over the years to people from different walks of life, I have noticed that quite often a career in a particular field develops following one or more seemingly chance actions or influences.

My introduction to meteorology as a science was a talk given in my school days by a teacher recently returned from service as a forecaster in the Royal Air Force. I recall being interested, but not particularly excited by it.

The catalyst came some months later when I saw an advertisement for meteorological observers which described part of the duties as 'coding and decoding weather observations'. At that time (1947) newspaper articles were being published on the activities of the analysts who cracked German military codes during the war. At the age of sixteen my imagination must have been fired, because to the dismay of my widowed mother I applied and was accepted for training.

I wish I still had my letter of appointment which stated that my salary would be 165 pounds (about $400) a year. Needless to say coding and decoding of weather reports did not turn out to be as exciting as I had imagined. Nevertheless, working in a small forecasting office on an RAF base was quite stimulating for a youngster. There was always someone prepared to reminisce about their wartime activities, and shift work gave opportunities to go to the cricket at Lords when most other poor mortals were working.

Charts at the time were plotted in red and blue ink, using two pens cramped together. One became very adept at switching from one to the other. Temperatures outside the UK were reported in degrees Celsius and were converted to Fahrenheit when plotted. Many of the conversions still readily come to mind.

I was encouraged by my OIC to upgrade my qualifications and alter two years I attained the academic standard necessary for entry to the forecasting course, and also passed the entry examination. Before this training could take place I was called up in 1949 for two years National Service in the RAF. Most of that time was spent doing radiosonde flights at Bahrain in the Persian Gulf. Sondes in those days weighed about 1.5 kg and a combined rawin/sonde flight took a team of five people. Two of these operated the radar, striving to keep the signal. This was not always easy—the old ex-Army gunlaying radar was quite temperamental.

A highlight of that time was a period of leave spent in the mountains of northern Iraq. On a short camping trip we were shown great hospitality and kindness by Kurdish villagers. Memories of that trip came sharply into focus during the military operations in the same area earlier this year.

Various forecasting postings in southern England followed, interspersed with two years at an RAF base in Sri Lanka from 1955–57. This was memorable for two reasons—one of our daughters was born there, and the warm friendly relationships which developed with the local people.

People in Bright Sparcs - Burn, John

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