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Page 1: N TH I S IS S U E U G U S T 2011

Page 1 ACT Newsletter Issue 5/11

Royal Australian Survey Corps Association

ACT Newsletter

Issue Note By Rob McHenry

My thanks to Trevor Menzies and Don Swiney for their input.

I N T H I S I S S U E – A U G U S T 2 0 1 1

Issue Note .................................................................................................... 1

Military Superannuation Reform? ......................................................................... 2

Topographic Mapping in Australia 1910-1945 ........................................................... 2

Abstract ................................................................................. 2

Introduction ............................................................................ 2

Origins of Topographic Mapping in Australia ...................................... 3

Outbreak of World War Two ......................................................... 4

War with Japan ........................................................................ 6

Mapping Achievements 1910-1945 .................................................. 8

Post War Mapping Policies ........................................................... 8

Map Index 1 One Inch to One Mile (1:63,360) Series ............................ 9

Map Index 2 One Inch to Four Miles (1:253,440) Series ........................ 10

Map Index 3 One Inch to Eight Miles (1:506,880) Series ....................... 11

Map Index 4 Australian Aeronautical Series (1:1,000,000) .................... 12

References ............................................................................ 12

Tall Tales & True .......................................................................................... 13

Pulau Bras ............................................................................. 13

Vale .......................................................................................................... 20

Photo Gallery ............................................................................................... 21

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Military Superannuation Reform? Media release from Stuart Robert MP – Shadow Minister for Defence Science, Technology and Personnel

On 2 Jun 2011, amidst a bunch of party political bumph, a media release on the subject advised that all 150 Members of the House of Representatives supported the Coalition‟s plan for fairer indexation of military superannuation pensions. Not surprisingly, this optimistic view was followed on 15 Jun 2011 with a further release from the same member stating „The Minister for Defence Science and Personnel and Veterans‟ Affairs, Warren Snowdon, has altogether abandoned his portfolio responsibilities and pushed through a Bill that fails to protect the interests of members of military superannuation schemes.‟ Nice try but I won‟t hold my breath waiting for this one to get up.....

Topographic Mapping in Australia 1910-1945 A Paper produced by Trevor Menzies ([email protected])

Abstract Series topographic mapping in Australia had its beginnings in 1910 when the Australian Army commenced a program of one inch to one mile mapping in Victoria and New South Wales. With very limited resources in the 1920s and 1930s the Army continued mapping some priority areas in the south-east and south-west of the Country. The Commonwealth‟s civilian activities over this period were limited to the production of nine sheets of the Australian sector of the International Map of the World, and strip maps for aircraft navigation along the principal air routes. State Government mapping activities were, until then, focused on the production of cadastral maps and plans for land administration purposes.

When Australia declared war on Germany in 1939, and then Japan in 1941, the military was confronted with the serious problem of a lack of maps to plan and execute the defence of the Country. As a result, an Emergency Mapping Program was instigated to meet the urgent requirement for strategic and tactical maps. The State Governments were called in to assist the Army Survey Corps until additional personnel could be recruited and trained in topographic mapping. By the end of the war, 80% of the Country had been provisionally mapped under the Strategic Mapping Program at scales of four miles to the inch around most of the coast and hinterland, and eight miles to the inch over more remote areas. Areas around the principal cities, ports, strategic towns and military establishments were mapped in more detail at one mile to the inch under the Survey Mapping Program. Introduction Series topographic mapping in Australia was, by default, the exclusive domain of the Army until the Second World War. The civilian Commonwealth and State Government agencies were

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not seriously involved until the National Mapping Council was formed in 1945 largely as a consequence of the war. Until then, the mapping activities within the Commonwealth Government Departments were limited to small scale mapping for aeronautical and general reference purposes whilst the States focused on the production of cadastral maps for land administration. So the history of series topographic mapping in Australia in the first half of the 20th Century is largely the history of the mapping activities of the Australian Army. Origins of Topographic Mapping in Australia Series topographic mapping in Australia began in 1910 when four topographers were seconded from the British Army to establish a survey unit within the Royal Australian Engineers. Their task was to produce maps over training areas and other areas of military importance under the direction of the Intelligence Corps. A program of one inch to one mile topographic mapping (1:63,360) was commenced over priority areas starting with the ports of Geelong and Western Port in Victoria and Newcastle in NSW. The map sheets were compiled in the field by plane table methods with control largely derived from existing parish cadastral plans. A Cartographic Section was established in Melbourne to fair draw the plane table compilations on the polyconic projection and prepare the reprographics for printing by the Government Printer. A triangulation section was added in 1914 to provide better geodetic control for the plane table surveys. In 1915 the survey section of the Royal Australian Engineers formed the nucleus of a new Australian Survey Corps. The one mile series mapping continued during the early years of the First World War but came to a halt in 1917 as most of the 20 personnel then attached to the Survey Corps had transferred to the Australian Imperial Force and were serving on the Western Front or in the Middle East. Many millions of people were killed or died as a result of the First World War. The war was aptly described as the war to end all wars because it was then said that such a cataclysm must never occur again. At the Paris Peace Treaty in 1919 nations agreed to disarm and the League of Nations was established to promote international cooperation and to achieve global peace and security. Australia joined the League and accordingly set about reducing the size of its military forces. So throughout the 1920s and early 1930s expenditure on defence, including topographic mapping, was low on the political agenda. In 1919 the strength of the Australian Survey Corps stood at 22 but three years later was reduced to a mere 14 and remained at that level until 1935. Within these constraints a limited amount of one inch to one mile mapping was carried out in pockets of south-eastern and south-western Australia. Technical innovation in cartography was not neglected. Aerial photography for map compilation flown by the RAAF was trialled in the 1920s and was successfully used on the Albury Sheet in 1931. The British Modified Grid was adopted in 1932 to provide a rectangular grid based on the Transverse Mercator projection to replace the previous graticule of the polyconic projection. Photogrammetric techniques using the British developed Arundel method of graphical triangulation and radial line plotting superseded plane table methods for map compilation in the early 1930s. The 1936 Sale Sheet was the first to be completely compiled from aerial photography.

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In 1925, the Commonwealth, after some deliberation, made on start on the production of 1:1,000,000 sheets of the International Map of the World (IMW) Series - a project first proposed at an International Geographical Conference held in London back 1895. A small team was established within the Property and Survey Branch of the Commonwealth Department of Works to undertake production of the Australian sector. The Sydney Sheet was the first to be published in 1927 and by the time the project was suspended in 1940 due to wartime priorities a total of nine sheets had been completed. These covered all of NSW and Victoria with some overlap into South Australia and Queensland - about fifth of the Australian land mass. These maps were office compilations based on cadastral maps, census reports and data supplied by state and local governments. However the resources allocated to national mapping were pitifully small given the magnitude of the task. Sixty maps at one inch to one mile had been published by 1931 but the area mapped covered only about 1% of the Australian land mass. The poor state of national mapping was of concern to many. Several committees comprising representatives from governments, the military, the scientific community and professional associations were convened through the 1920s and 30s to lobby the Commonwealth on the need for a national geodetic and topographic survey. But this was to no avail as mapping was not regarded as a priority when competing with other more visible areas for the allocation of resources. However there was support from some politicians. For example in a speech delivered in the House of Representatives in 1938 the Member for the Northern Territory the Honourable A.M. Blain stated the following…

I refer to the need for the complete triangulation and mapping of Australia for defence and other purposes. I deplore, as does everyone in the surveying and engineering world, Australia’s lack of progress in the work of coordinating the surveys of the various States. Australia is far behind the civilized counties of the world in the mapping of the country’s physical features and contours. I have in mind particularly the great ordnance surveys of India and the British Isles. I instance also the surveys by the little principalities of the Malay Peninsula, Siam, Burma and the Straits Settlements. They made a major triangulation, so that they know the whole surround of the country first, and then fill in the detail with small surveys afterwards. We in Australia did not follow that course and so we have chaos.

However the government‟s interest in mapping was soon to change. Outbreak of World War Two Following Hitler‟s breach of the Munich agreement in 1939 over German occupation of Czechoslovakia, it appeared that war was imminent. Resources allocated to defence were increased substantially, the Survey Corps was expanded to 50 and a long range one inch to mile mapping program adopted. But it was awfully late in coming.

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When Prime Minister Menzies announced in September 1939 that Australia was at war with Germany the military had a serious problem as there was no complete map coverage over the country suitable for defence purposes. The successful waging of war requires access to topographic maps showing the lay of the land. Strategic maps at small scales are required by the military high command to plan and implement campaigns. Troops in the field need tactical maps at larger scales to find and fight the enemy. On the eve of war the topographic map coverage of Australia suitable for tactical operations stood at 80 one inch to one mile sheets - 73 in the south east and 7 in the south west of the country covering about 1.3% of the Australian land mass. The coverage suitable for broad strategic planning stood at nine 1:1,000,000 IMW sheets also limited to the south east corner. There was no strategic or tactical map coverage over northern Australia where enemy activity was most likely to occur in the first instance. The government‟s response to its defence mapping predicament was to approve a further expansion to the Survey Corps and initiate an Emergency Mapping Program. However as time was needed to recruit and train army personnel the State Governments were called in to assist. The RAAF‟s aerial photography capability was increased in 1939 with the formation of a dedicated Survey Flight. Three Tugan Gannet and two Avro Anson aircraft equipped with Williamson Eagle IV cameras were initially assigned to the Flight. The cameras were subsequently replaced with Fairchild K17 cameras and the Gannets with Lockheed Hudsons. Additional photography for mapping was also flown by the civilian contractor Adastra Airways who at the time was the only firm in Australia with vertical aerial photography capability. The Royal Australian Air Force was also in urgent need of aeronautical charts over the country. The rapid growth in civil aviation in the 1930s had lead to the production of a series of strip maps covering the air routes between principal aerodromes. By 1939 about 54 such strip maps had been produced for supply in roll form for attaching to rollers mounted on a board in the cockpit of the aeroplane. These maps were produced by the Property and Survey Branch of the Department of Works who supplied the base topographic data, and the Civil Aviation Branch of the Department of Defence added the aeronautical information. The rolled strip maps were of limited use for air defence purposes so as a matter of urgency work commenced on a new Australian Aeronautical Series at a scale of 1:1,000,000 drawn on the standard Mercator projection. Production was a joint venture between the RAAF, the Department of Civil Aviation and the Department of the Interior who had now taken over the Commonwealth‟s property and survey function from the Department of Works. By August 1942 the first aeronautical map coverage had been completed and work commenced on a cycle of revision. It soon became obvious that it would not be possible to produce one inch to one inch mile map coverage of strategic areas within the time frame required by the military planners who were now faced with the looming threat of Japan. So in early 1940 a Strategic Mapping Scheme was adopted to supplement the one inch to one mile mapping with one inch to four mile (1:253,440) mapping. As one 4 mile sheet (format 1.5deg x 1.0deg) covered 12 one mile sheets (format 0.5deg x 0.25deg) it meant that some provisional cover, albeit less detailed, could be obtained in a short time frame. In the remoter parts of the country it was decided to

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map at one inch to 8 miles (1:506,880) due to the scant information available and the low level of development. The State Surveyors-General provided staff to compile the strategic map sheets from whatever material was available – cadastral plans, aeronautical maps, road maps, information from municipal authorities, farmers and pastoralists. Cartographic standards for the first edition were relaxed for expediency but subsequent editions were improved as better information became available. After France fell in June 1940 and German eyes turned towards Britain, the Australian War Cabinet approved a further major expansion of the Survey Corps. The 2/1 Corps Field Survey Company, a unit comprising survey, drafting and mobile map reproduction elements was raised for service in the Middle East to support the Australian and allied operations in that theatre. The Cartographic Section in Melbourne was expanded into a Cartographic Company and equipped with photo lithographic equipment and printing presses for map reproduction. The unit soon outgrew its Melbourne city premises so was relocated to Bendigo, Victoria, where it occupied the historic mansion known as Fortuna. This was the start of a 54 year association that the Survey Corps at Fortuna was to have with the City of Bendigo until the Corps disbanded in 1996. A Field Survey Company of around 240 personnel comprising survey, drafting and transport sections was raised in each of the four military commands – Northern Command covering Queensland (No.5 Field Survey Company); Eastern Command covering NSW (No.2 Field Survey Company); Western Command covering WA (No.4 Field Survey Company); and Southern Command covering Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania (No.3 Field Survey Company). The 7th Field Survey Section was raised out of volunteers from Nos. 2 and 3 Companies and deployed to the Northern Territory in mid-1941. These units continued with one inch to one mile mapping of priority areas now referred to as the “survey mapping program” as distinct from the one inch to four mile and one inch to eight mile “strategic mapping program” being undertaken largely by the States. War with Japan On 7th December 1941 Japanese carrier based aircraft attacked Pearl Harbour in the US state of Hawaii. The USA declared war on Japan and Australia followed suit. American troops were deployed to Australia where the US military planners found, to their concern, that there was no suitable complete map coverage of Australia to plan defences and mount operations. So the US Army Map Service was called upon to remedy the situation by completing the 1:1,000,000 series that then stood at nine IMW sheets in the south-east. Thirty two sheets were published by the Army Map Service during 1942 and 1943. Production was undertaken in Washington using compilation material obtained from a multitude of existing sources. By early 1942 the military situation was grim. Rabaul, in the Australian mandated Territory of New Guinea fell to the Japanese invaders on 23rd January. Ambon in the Netherlands East Indies fell on 30th January, and Singapore fell on 15th February. The 20,000 Australian troops mostly from the ill fated 8th Division AIF who had

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been defending those places had been either killed in action, executed or were taken as prisoners. Other parts of the Netherlands East Indies had been occupied or were being invaded. The Japanese carrier fleet that had attacked Pearl Harbour and then Rabaul, moved in to the Timor Sea and launched a devastating attack on Darwin on the 19th February 1942. Following the bombing of Darwin a massive defence build up got underway in Queensland and the Northern Territory. Apart from the units operating in Western Australia and the Northern Territory all other field survey units, including the unit back from the Middle East, were relocated to Queensland to continue with the survey mapping program along the coast. Mobile map reproduction equipment was set up at Gabbinbar, an historic homestead near Toowoomba, Queensland, to supplement the cartographic and printing capability of Fortuna. Following the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942 when a Japanese invasion fleet bound for the Australian Territory of Papua was repelled by US and Australian forces, the Japanese landed troops on the north and east coasts of Papua with the objective of taking Port Moresby overland from 2 fronts – one from the north along the Kokoda Trail and the other from the east through Milne Bay. Papua and New Guinea now became the priority so several Survey Corps units were deployed there to undertake mapping in that theatre. However work on the survey mapping program was able to continue in northern Australia by units not operating in Papua and New Guinea. The threat of invasion or raids along the north coast prompted the military high command in June 1942 to request one inch to four mile strategic mapping of the coast and hinterland from Exmouth Gulf in Western Australia to Cape York in Queensland. This massive task required a new approach to expedite the process. The area was photographed by the US Army Air Corps with a trimetrogon aerial camera rather than the conventional vertical aerial camera. Trimetrogon photography had been earlier adopted for medium to small scale mapping in remote northern Canada and Alaska. The trimetrogon camera comprises an assembly of 3 cameras that simultaneously take photos – one vertical and high obliques on either side to cover a swath of ground from horizon to horizon. This enables the distance between runs to be increased and fewer photos and ground control points are required to cover an area. Ground control over this vast remote region of northern Australia was obtained by position line astro-fixes rather than the conventional survey methods of triangulation and traversing. Although not as accurate as the more rigorous conventional methods the astro-fixes gave expeditious results adequate for provisional four miles to the inch scale mapping. By 1944 the tide of the war was beginning to turn for the better. The last Japanese air raid on Australia occurred on the12th November 1943 when nine enemy bombers attacked targets in Darwin and nearby bases. By the end of 1944 most survey corps units then in Australia were being assembled in north Queensland for deployment overseas to support the final campaigns of the war. Field survey activity in Australia ground to a halt but the Cartographic Company in Bendigo continued at maximum capacity to compile and print maps for both Australian and US Forces operating in the South West Pacific Area until the end of the war.

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Mapping Achievements 1910-1945 Map indexes 1 to 4 on the following pages depict the state of series topographic mapping in Australia in 1945 and show the number of sheets produced up to the beginning of the war and the number at the end of the war. Some of these sheets were revised over this period and new editions printed. Post War Mapping Policies After the experience of 1942 with an enemy on the doorstep and a lack of maps to plan and mount defences, the politicians had been convinced of the need for topographic maps. Many of the map sheets produced during the war, particularly the strategic map series, were emergency editions in which cartographic accuracy was justifiably compromised for expediency. Post war reconstruction and national development were high on the political agenda and these initiatives added support for funding quality topographic map coverage of the country. In 1945 the Commonwealth joined with the six States to establish the National Mapping Council with the goal of achieving complete topographic map coverage of Australia in 3 dimensions. In 1947 a national mapping office was established within the Commonwealth Department of the Interior, later to become the Division of National Mapping, as the lead government agency for national mapping. The extensive activities and achievements of the National Mapping Council and its member organisations are covered in the conference papers that follow.

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Map Index 1 One Inch to One Mile (1:63,360) Series Number of sheets produced to 1939 – 80 Number of sheets produced to 1945 – 342

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Map Index 2 One Inch to Four Miles (1:253,440) Series

Number of sheets produced to 1939 – 0 Number of sheets produced to 1945 – 230

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Map Index 3 One Inch to Eight Miles (1:506,880) Series

Number of sheets produced to 1939 – 0 Number of sheets produced to 1945 – 62

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Map Index 4 Australian Aeronautical Series (1:1,000,000)

Number of sheets produced to 1939 – 0 Number of sheets produced to 1945 – 45

References Blain, A.M. (1938), Mapping Australia in The Australian Surveyor, Vol.7 No.3, p.146, Institution of Surveyors, Australia. Catalogue of Official Military Maps (circa.1961), Survey Directorate, Army Headquarters, Canberra, A.C.T. Coulthard-Clark, C.D. (2000), Australia’s Military Mapmakers: The Royal Australian Survey Corps 1915-96, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, Vic.

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Hillier, J. (1991), Mapping Across the Borderline in a supplement to the Proceedings of the 33rd Australian Surveyors Congress, Albury, NSW, Institution of Surveyors, Australia. Lines, J.D. (1992), Australia on Paper: The Story of Australian Mapping, Griffin Press, Netley, S.A. Lovejoy, V.(2003), Mapmakers of Fortuna: A History of the Army Survey Regiment, Sovereign Press, Ballarat, Vic. Menzies, T.W. (2004) Mapping to Defend Australia‟s North in the Second World War in the Journal of Northern Territory History Issue 15, pp.91-106, Historical Society of the Northern Territory, Darwin, N.T. Sear, W.J. (1964), One in a Million in Cartography Volume 5 Nos.3 and 4, pp. 55-58, Australian Institute of Cartographers.

Tall Tales & True Pulau Bras By Don Swiney with help from Peter Jensen

It was 1976, the first year at Biak and it was about midpoint of the operation when I was sitting in the Operation Hut with one ear listening to the flight following radio and leafing through some disgusting magazine that the sigs had got hold of with little else to do. All of a sudden there was an altercation down at the Main gate and looking out through the door I could see three elderly Papuans arguing with the guard on the gate. With nothing better to do I wandered down to see what the fuss was all about. They wanted to see the „kepala‟ (me) so after placating the guard I led them back up to the operations room to find out what it was all about. Their Indonesian language was worse than mine so I tried talking to them in pidgin. They looked around warily and after having established there was no Indonesian in earshot they grinned broadly and told me the story. They had come from Bosnek, a village about ten kilometres East along the coast from Biak. Some eight months previously the village had organized with a contractor to take a party of about ten including three eight to ten tear old boys to an island they called „Pulau Bras‟ to render coconut oil. The contractor was to return to pick them up and bring them back after about six weeks but it was eight months later and the hadn‟t seen anything of the group or of the contractor or his boat for that matter. As it happened we had recently established geoceiver stations on both of the two islands North of Biak and as far as our air charts and our information there was nothing further North until the Philippines. I was using the Tactical Pilotage chart we had on the ops room wall to illustrate where we had been and that there was nothing further to the North. They were a sea faring people and understood maps but they kept insisting that Pulau Bras was further to the North. After a while any further discussion I considered pointless and sent them on their way. They complied but not happily.

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Spider Rider, the 9 Sqn RAAF detachment commander was sitting at the other end of the ops room table reading a book and half following the discussion. „Lets go and have a look‟ he said after they left but I wasn‟t about to waste my helicopter hours wandering around the ocean looking for an island that may or may not and probably not be there. Spider persisted and I agreed on the condition that we used his continuation hours and it not be billed to the operation. I told Mayor Soetrisnoe, my Indonesian opposite number but he was more sceptical than I was an he certainly was not going to fly around the ocean in a helicopter looking for some mythical island but he did agree to send one of his other officers along. With the helicopter fitted with auxiliary fuel tanks and literally bulging with fuel we set off with the five of us, the crew of three plus one of Soetrisnoe‟s second lieutenants and myself. We flew over the two islands North of Biak and were well North of the equator when I started to get cold feet. From my vantage point all I could see in every direction was ocean and said to Spider that it was time to head back. “hang on” he said, “there are clouds on the horizon” (a sure sign of land in these latitudes as the air heats up more over a land mass rising to produce the clouds). We soon found we were flying over a classic coral atoll with three islands covered with a dense canopy of coconut palms. We circled over the Southern island with no sign of any human activity but over the most Northern island (what turned out to be Pulau Bras) a group of people rushed out from under the coconut trees frantically waving. It was as we had been told that they had been there for eight months, had filled all their containers with coconut oil and were keen to go home. They certainly were not lacking for food. They had coconuts in abundance, the island was used as a nest site by turtles and there was plenty of fish. There were also signs of WW2 occupation with the remains of a pair of two very tall antennae now lying on the ground and a fairly small but substantial hut. It had obviously been used as „early warning of both weather and enemy aircraft while the US forces were based at Biak. It was also used as a source of coconuts by Taiwanese fishing boats evidenced by the wreck of one in the lagoon

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Mapia Atoll shown North West of Biak

We couldn‟t take them all back but we agreed to take the three boys and two adults leaving the rest to look after their coconut oil and wait for a boat organized by their village. We strapped our passengers firmly into the aircraft so they could barely move (not knowing what their reaction would be once we got into the air) and flew back to Biak arriving very late afternoon. I loaded them all into my Mini Moke and set off East along the coast for about ten kilometres for Bosnek. We arrived at the village right on dusk and I drove into the cleared area in the centre of the village, stopped the vehicle and they all climbed out. There was the usual village sounds of that time of night with mothers calling children, roosters crowing, dogs barking and the rest of it. One of the adults I brought back yelled something and all of a sudden there was an eerie silence followed by a wailing from the women but it didn‟t take long for it to develop into a cacophony of sound and much slapping and grabbing of the group I had brought back. I sat on the bonnet of the Moke watching all the antics and was about to quietly leave when one of the original three who had alerted us to the existence of Pulau Bras spotted me and the next thing, I was the centre of attention and not at all sure that I was going to survive. I finally left with much waving and blowing of the horn. Soetrisnoe now took ownership and reported to Admiral Subroto Yudono the „ Panglima‟ of Defence District 4 and based in Biak. . The significance was not lost on him as he saw his area boundary extended North by about one hundred nautical miles and from a National level, the exclusive economic boundary (EEZ) extended by the same amount with the attending fishing and sea bed rights. It was up to us to now include the mapping of „Kepulauan Mapia‟

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in our program. It wasn‟t going to be easy as the islands were at the extreme range of the helicopters and very little weight was available to the geoceiver party. I simply put it to the detachment commanders of the helicopters and the Caribou that I wanted them there, I wanted them moved after three days to the other end of the islands, I wanted them fed and watered whilst there and I wanted them back after six days. It was good to watch as both detachments gathered around the „Ops room‟ table and worked out a plan. The plan was :

The geoceiver party would be made up of the skinniest operators we had. It turned out that it was to be Peter Jensen, Cam Chapman and Armand Shroggers (JANTOP).

The helicopter would only carry the party members, an abbreviated set of technical and camping gear but no food or water.

The Caribou loadmaster made up a sled on that would carry all the food and water and then some. It was then planned to make a very low pass on a long sand spit and kick the sled off the ramp and see what survived.

Any helicopter sorties to the island group would be accompanied by a cover of a Caribou with the ramp open with a life raft on the ramp that could be dropped in an instant.

That was the plan, I will let Peter Jensen take up the story from there. Pulau Bras is one of three small islands of Kepulauan Mapia, being a small coral atoll about 4km x 13km, located about 200km north of the birds-head of Irian Jaya. Bras is the north-east corner of the atoll, about 4km east of the tiny (about 300m x 500m) Finaldo and 8km north of Pegun. There is no other land between the mainland and the atoll. It is about 80km north of the equator. The islands are normally uninhabited. Indonesia requested an accurate position be established for the islands, for them to make an economic exclusion zone claim. The new US Navy TRANSIT Geoceiver equipment was ideal for this purpose, but logistically this was a difficult site to occupy. It was decided to send one light-scale survey party (SGT Peter Jensen, CPL Cameron Chapman and LT Armand Shroggers – JANTOP) by one RAAF UH-1H Iroquois, which even fitted with long-range fuel bladders would be operating near the end of its range. The flight was all over open ocean and weight was very limited, so RAAF sent an accompanying SRT Caribou, as a Search and Rescue and navigating aircraft, with a life raft strapped to the ramp which was in the open-down position for the flight. After more than an hour at a few thousand feet, with nothing but deep blue water looking down (doors open for the over water flight) and the comforting view of the Caribou above and to one side with the loadmaster on the safety strap lying on the ramp watching us, we sighted the atoll not far off the flight direction and descended straight to the tiny island (Finaldo) which was just north and west of Pulau Bras which was the general name used for that part of the operation. With next to no time for a low-level reconnaissance we landed on the coral beach near the most north-westerly end and unloaded. Soon we were by ourselves with not a noise except for the low waves lapping the coral and we set about choosing the survey station site (SP113), the Geoceiver tent site and a site for our accommodation. We took only a light-weight fly for that purpose. All of these sites were on the beach, above the tidal debris (like any island in the world there is always a rubber thong and an empty milk carton). The highest point on the island was about 1 metre

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above the high water mark. Our task was to observe and record about 20 NAVSAT passes of satellites which were in the US Defense Mapping Agency precise ephemerides network. Mid-afternoon what looked like an Asian fishing boat appeared on the horizon to our north and spent a few hours traversing back and forward about 5km to sea, before departing towards the north-west. We thought they had seen us, or heard the aircraft, and were not going to approach without being sure what we were. Later we did find evidence of previous occupation.

Camp site Pulau Finaldo – Bras in the background Lt Armand Shroggers and Cpl Cam Chapman

As evening approached, no twilight in the tropics, Cam headed off with his fishing rod and soon had dinner (kingfish from memory – not the small black-tipped shark in the photo). Later that night we were sitting back watching the stars, thinking that people pay thousands of dollars for a spot like this, listening to the short-wave radio Voice of the Philippines, when the program was interrupted with a WHOPPING noise repeated every few seconds. This went on for a few minutes and then a male voice said this was the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, Honolulu, with a tidal-wave watch from an earthquake with epicentre south of Mindanao Island in the Philippines. We sat there on the beach in stunned silence – about a half-metre above sea-level. We didn’t have a map of our wider region but we knew there was nothing much in the way between Mindinao and us. We guessed we were about 500 miles (800km) away. We did recall having a Readers Digest with a story of a man who survived a tidal wave in Fiji, and soon rabbited through the book looking for hints. He had clung to a coconut tree. There was nothing about the speed of tidal waves but we thought that would be a few hundred kilometres an hour – perhaps meaning we had a few hours. We weren’t sure of the time of the earthquake but put a stick marker at water level. It was a very calm sea and quiet night with no wind. We also thought we would hear a tidal wave. From the local geography the wave would come from the north-west across our tiny island then over the reef to Bras and into deep water. The fact was there was little that our survey base camps could do for us at that time of night, but we tried to radio the problem on both the 6Mhz HF main frequency and 3Mhz night frequency, raising main base (zero-alpha) at Biak but did not think they could understand us. We thought our best chance was probably the water proof Geoceiver and radio boxes which we sealed and lashed together. We had HF, VHF and UHF (survival) radios

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and put the VHF radio in the radio box, knowing that the RAAF could direction-find on those frequencies. There was nothing else to do but keep up with the satellite observations, watch sea-level and listen. Nothing happened. We did contact main and forward bases early next morning, went on to finish the satellite observations and observe some ex-meridian sun azimuths to identifiable features on the two other islands on the atoll which we walked to at low tide. After three days RAAF returned and moved us over to Pulau Pegun (SP103) for the geoceiver observations which would then give us derived azimuth and scale from the two point-positions. As it turned out:

The earthquake on 17th August, was 8 on the Richter scale, with after-shocks of 6.8

A localised tsunami, soon after the earthquake, in the Moro Bay area of Mindanao Island, and about 4-5 metres high killed about 8,000 people, being one of the worst in the Philippines history

The tsunami warning was cancelled after weak waves were reported at Okinawa, Sulawesi and Borneo. Waves about 10cm were reported in Japan about 6 hours after the earthquake – speed about 800km per hour

We were about 1000km from the epicentre – a bit more than an hour by tidal wave Years later as Army Headquarters Duty Officer (all General Staff Captains and Major were on roster) I was used to being woken with a call from the Signal Centre saying that a priority (or higher precedence) message was on its way. Soon after the K-THUMP of the message cylinder arriving in the pneumatic pipe would make sure you hadn’t drifted back to sleep. Often these messages were from the US Navy Honolulu, warning of earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones etc. The Duty Officer had to plot the positions of these events on the situation maps on the wall to determine if the event was in Australia’s area of responsibility, and if so, alert by telephone those on a list. I did wonder what happened on that night in August 1976, and if the Duty Officer knew that a couple of Australian soldier surveyors and an Indonesian colleague were sitting a few centimetres above sea-level only an hour by tidal wave from the earthquake, or whether they plotted the position, decided it was someone else’s patch and went back to sleep, as was the normal practice. Kepulauan Mapia did have an interesting World War II history in 1944 with the RAN, RAAF, US Navy all in action against Japanese forces there with a meteorological station and the allies establishing a LORAN site for navigation and a radar site. In the mean time back at the base camp at Biak, I had gone to bed and was listening to „Radio Australia‟ on my „very smart‟ Russian made radio which I had bought on the recommendation of the communications people at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta (it self destructed in spectacular fashion a couple of months later) when I heard a report of an earth quake in the Southern Philippines. It was nowhere near the complete report that the party on the Palau Bras got. It was now ten o‟clock at night but I went up to the comms shack and checked with the signaller on duty. He said that he thought he may have heard a transmission some time earlier but couldn‟t make any sensible contact. We tried again then on and off during the night but HF communications at low latitudes at night was near impossible. There was no mention on Radio Australia for the rest of the night but we monitored our night frequency for

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the rest of the night. I was very much aware that I had three of our team at risk but was operating with the scantiest of information. I, for better or worst, decided to warn the Caribou for an early start and wait for the eight o‟clock schedule the next morning. Eight o‟clock came and went and they finally came up between five and ten minutes later. The relief was palpable in the „ops hut‟ but I responded by snarling at them for being late but not telling them why. They probably thought, „grumpy coot‟ but then, I never heard of their concern. I stood the Caribou down, sat in my „thinking chair‟ in the „ops hut‟ whilst I undid the knot in my stomach and finally ambled off to see if I could get a late breakfast out of the cooks.

We had been warned that there was a fishing boat in the vicinity (as Peter said) so when Spider went up to move the party he spotted the vessel just off the Southern Island. Spider, being an old „Bushranger‟ pilot from Vietnam dropped to sea level and lined them up from behind the island and did a simulated „rocket run‟ on the vessel. Some were ashore and others lazing around the boat, but they were suddenly galvanized into action and last seen heading over the horizon, not to bother the team again. The Indonesian reaction to finding a poaching fishing boat was to put a couple of rounds into the bow so they must have thought that their number was up. The end result was that Kepulauan Mapia became a recognized part of Indonesia. (It was anyway but they did not know about it.)

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Vale DEREK TAYLOR Brian Mead has advised that 5102617 Derek Robert Taylor passed away on Friday 3rd June.

There was a side benefit as I had become a bit of a legend in Bosnek which I was able to put to use later during the operation. Senior officers, mainly RAAF found that could have an interesting day out by coming up on the fortnightly C130 and have a bit of a look around. Rather than have them hanging around he base camp and making a nuisance of themselves, I would take it on myself to take them of a bit of a tour of the ground over which the battle of Biak was fought. I used a page ripped out of a „History of the Second World War‟ as an authority and started the tour where the US troops landed which happened to be very close to Bosnek Village. I started the tour by driving into the village and within a minute or two, one of the kids would come across with two fresh coconuts with the tops cut off. After a refreshing drink, I started the tour. I never told them why I was so highly regarded in this village, and left them to presume that we were this popular

throughout the province.

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Photo Gallery Photos, old and new, related to RASvy Corps activities.

Top - 5 Fd Svy Sqn Jun 81. Right, a very relaxed picture of the same squadron

from around 84/85

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8 Fd Svy Sqn - 1991


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