Page 1471
Previous/Next Page
Federation and MeteorologyBureau of Meteorology
Table of Contents

Weather News



Personal Notes


Obituary—Mr. L. J. Dwyer
Obituary: Mr. H. M. Treloar
James Charles Foley
Herb Whittingham Dies
Bryan Rofe
Vale Fritz Loewe
Death of H. E. Banfield
Former RD Passes On [Pat Ryan]
Arthur Muffatti Dies
David Wright
Jack Johnston
Mr E. W. Timcke
Sudden Death of Ross Maine
Ross Maine—An Appreciation
Fred Weisser
Reg Clarke
Dr Patrick Squires (1914–1990)
Bill Brann—'Architect of the Observing System'
Vale Arch Shields
Dr John Farrands
Vale David Kupsch: A Death in the Family

Observers and Volunteers




Contact us

Vale Arch Shields

No. 310 September 1995

Arch Shields, former RD QLD and a veteran of the RAAF Meteorological Service, has died in Brisbane.

Arch retired in 1977 after 37 years with the Bureau. War service included some narrow escapes from bombing and strafing, a rise to Squadron Leader, and a Mentioned In Despatches after the Borneo invasion.

Postwar service included Central Analysis, Brisbane, Deputy Director (now RD) Tasmania (where he developed an enduring enthusiasm for part-time farming)and then Deputy Director, Queensland/PNG. 'When it comes to cyclones in Queensland, Arch was the guru,' says RD QLD Rex Falls. 'He made an outstanding contribution to the cyclone warning system, extending his reputation and accumulated wisdom through such cyclones as Ada, Althea, Dinah and Wanda, which caused the intense Brisbane floods of 1974.' Arch's outstanding Bureau service brought an MBE in 1972. He gave a lot of service to Rotary and Legacy, although Victorians might reckon his greatest community service came from playing 19 games with Carlton in the VFL in 1937–38.

John Zillman recalls his years on the bench in Brisbane when Arch was RD as the most enjoyable and satisfying of his career. 'Arch was possessed of great humanity and wisdom and he was a marvellous, if rather tough, mentor–but, until I devised a basis for preemptive action we often played out a morning ritual when he came down to look at the charts. I had the irritating habit of drawing all my charts very lightly in pencil and then going back over them and tidying them up all at once just before I finished shift. Arch was prone to register his displeasure at their faintness by blinking several times then sitting down and methodically filling in my lightly pencilled fronts in blue biro. And we had identical spectacle frames but totally different prescriptions. After redrawing my charts in biro, Arch would pick up 'his' glasses off the bench, and head off to his office, only to return a few minutes later, blinking uncomfortably, to return my glasses. It happened so often that I couldn't help feeling I was being given some sort of subtle message. But they were great times and I feel extremely privileged to have worked for Arch in my early years in Brisbane. He was one of the best and his influence will live on for a long time in the Bureau.'

Arch was a bit of a character. His old mate Ray Wilkie, his successor as RD QLD, offers some insights: 'Forty-five years ago, a young sprog meteorologist just off the first postwar training course finished up in Brisbane, where Archibald John Shields was our new analyst. He seemed friendly enough and his receding hairline and ten-year age gap demanded respect. He soon gained every-one's admiration for his meticulous analysis of synoptic charts; woe betide the duty forecaster who did not match his precision. Arch always tactfully pointed out omissions, inconsistencies and discontinuity of analysis.

A few anecdotes indicative of his philosophy . . . it was almost mandatory on day shift to buy lunch for the master—he would pay of course, notwithstanding his Scots ancestry. Lunch had to include a lamington which he would wash down with a cup of tea and an anti-acid tablet.

The RD lived then in a flat above the RO, across the street from his club, the United Services Club. On odd occasions, after a trying day, we would be invited over to have a cleansing ale. The merriment would end abruptly when the message got to Arch that a tea-towel was hanging out of a window of the flat, a signal from his good wife Marj that dinner was ready. I can remember many occasions when Arch developed short-sightedness.

Sometimes Arch would drive me home and I would invite him in: being a poorly paid Met 2 I could afford only cheap plonk. Preferring a wee dram of Scotch, he used to screw up his face but never complain . . . the character of the man!

I can remember showing him my new fibreglass boat in 1951—I had bought a bottle of rum, so with a glass of Bundy and coke he was a contented man. He did take me aback by reckoning "There are two occasions in a man's life when he enjoys a boat—the first is when he buys it, the second when he sells it!" Subsequent experience proved him right.

We have certainly lost a good fellow in Arch—but the memories linger on.'

Arch is survived by his wife Marj and children Margot, Russell, Sandra and Louise.

People in Bright Sparcs - Shields, Archibald John

Previous Page Bureau of Meteorology Next Page

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher