Raoul Island: 1950-1959

1950:

Dressed for a dunking, agriculturalist Bill Porter (left) and radio operator Clyde Williams going ashore at Fishing Rock, Raoul Island, 1950

Dressed for a dunking, agriculturalist Bill Porter (left) and radio operator Clyde Williams going ashore at Fishing Rock, Raoul Island, 1950. Courtesy Clyde Williams

Our first resupply visit was in April 1950 by the frigate HMNZS Pukaki. There were the usual maintenance people on the ship and they included two PO radio technicians to give the radio station its annual going over. The Senior Technician was Reg Motion and it would have been he who took the photographs below I would think. I can recall there were discussions about the pending use of a radiosonde system for doing the twice daily upper air reports, to replace the rather primitive hydrogen balloon system that we were using, and how the proximity of the aerial system to the sonde launching site might lead to difficulties.
– Clyde Williams

(The captions on the following photos are from handwritten notes on each photo and appear to be part of assessing whether the aerial poles would be moved.)

Raoul Island Radio, April 1950: Poles A and D (labelled on photo) and wooded gully west of poles

Raoul Island Radio, April 1950: Poles A and D (labelled on photo) and wooded gully west of poles. Courtesy Chris Underwood

Raoul Island Radio, April 1950: Pole D showing low area west of aerial system

Raoul Island Radio, April 1950: Pole D showing low area west of aerial system. Courtesy Chris Underwood

Raoul Island Radio, April 1950: Looking south towards station over poles E and B (labelled on photo)

Raoul Island Radio, April 1950: Looking south towards station over poles E and B (labelled on photo). Courtesy Chris Underwood

I think the objective of the April 1950 assessment was to see if the wooden pole antenna ‘farm’ could be shifted east (towards the house); the prevailing winds were from the east for most of the year. This was relevant as the old rubber hydrogen balloons could rise at about 500 ft a minute as the load weight was minimal, and in all but ‘no flight’ winds would be well clear of the antennae during the early part of their ascent. The heavier weight of the new radiosonde equipment might possibly give rise to difficulties.
– Clyde Williams

Raoul Island Radio, April 1950: 'Looking west along line of aerial systems showing gully over which new aerial would run.'

Raoul Island Radio, April 1950: ‘Looking west along line of aerial systems showing gully over which new aerial would run.’ Courtesy Chris Underwood

Raoul Island Radio, April 1950: 'Looking east from Pole C, showing where new poles could be placed (bull paddock)'.

Raoul Island Radio, April 1950: ‘Looking east from Pole C, showing where new poles could be placed (bull paddock)’. Courtesy: Chris Underwood

Raoul Island Radio, April 1950: 'Looking west, showing whole aerial system and east gully.' The three measurements on the photo look to be horizontal distances between gully and various poles

Raoul Island Radio, April 1950: ‘Looking west, showing whole aerial system and east gully.’ The three measurements on the photo look to be horizontal distances between gully and various poles. Courtesy: Chris Underwood. Click to enlarge.

Bill Porter (pictured in the first photo on this page) had to leave the island on the April supply trip. An X-ray taken before we left Auckland showed a dark area in one of his lungs and MOW(AD) wanted him to return for further examination. We learned later that he was cleared of any “nasties” and it was understood he was to return on the next supply trip. In the event that did not happen; I believe he was injured in a car accident. Our OinC also returned to New Zealand on the April trip; simply saying he was not going to stay any longer. The isolation did affect some people very negatively and he, much older than the rest of us, did find it a bit difficult at times. Vic Morgan became the OinC in addition to his job as the “met” man.
– Clyde Williams

On 27 December 1950, radio operators Tom Scott and Clyde Williams were replaced by Ned Early and Dave Mortenson.1

MV Maui Pomare

Radio operators Tom Scott and Clyde Williams returned to New Zealand aboard MV Maui Pomare.

1957:

All the information garnered during a day at the office had to be transmitted to Wellington. This was done by way of daily radio schedules. Whoever was on duty when the scheduled time came would set the equipment up and call Wellington.

We had two Collins 1-kilowatt HF transmitters and a good antenna system. For reception there was a pair of SuperPro receivers. So communications was usually very good.

The Wellington end was the Post and Telegraph international exchange, and when contact was established you asked for whoever it was you wanted and you were patched through using the normal telephone system. We became quite familiar with the international operators as we talked to them several times a day. One in particular was our favourite, I never knew her real name as she was simply known as Blossom. She had a great personality and when she was on duty her cheerfulness was always a tonic.

All expedition members were allowed free phone calls to their families once a week and these were always used up. The only difficulty was getting people used to a simplex radio circuit, which means only one person can talk at a time. The time honoured system of saying “over” when you had finished talking was the only way. It made for rather stilted conversations but people caught on in the end.
Peter Spinetto’s website

Further reading

Clyde Williams:
Bull Paddock adventure
Weather observations
Raoul Island transport
1950: Visiting vessels

1970 – 1979

Notes

1 Information from Clyde Williams, September 2016