School of Surveying and Spatial Information Systems

The University of New South Wales

Surveyors in the Services

by Megan Gamble

Supervised by Michael Green

Edited by J. M. Rüeger

October 2003

Background: The Australian Survey Corps 1939 - 1945

The Australian Survey Corps entered World War II (WWII) with nine officers and 41 other ranks. New recruits, transfers and experienced surveyors increased the Corpsí strength which peaked during the conflict with some 5500 men engaged in mapping tasks in Australia and overseas ( The Corps was divided into various Sections and Companies that served with Divisions of the Australian Army in Australia, the Middle East, Pacific Islands, New Guinea and Borneo producing over 1440 maps, providing aeronautical maps and charts for the Allied Forces, tables for the Navy and a variety of other survey intelligence items (, FitzGerald 1980). 


Surveyors in the Services broadens the scope of existing literature dedicated to the history of military mapping in Australia and overseas. Here, the history of survey units and companies is extended by recording the service history of Raymond George Ball and Edward Francis Hunter with the Australian Survey Corps during WWII. Unfortunately, many memories recounted in interviews or questionnaires could not be not included. Also because of time constraints, the biographies of other members of the Australian Survey Corps, who were more than willing to record their service history of WWII, could not be recorded. The biographies of Raymond George Ball and Edward Francis Hunter are not to be read as the lives of heroes but as the lives of two members of the Australian Survey Corps, who helped to supply the armed services with the maps and survey intelligence they required to defend our nation during the hostilities of 1939 - 1945.


Raymond George Ball

Raymond George Ball, familiarly known as Ray, enlisted at Royal Park, Victoria on the 3rd of November 1941 and was posted to 3 Field Survey Company Headquarters at Woodend (Victoria), where he undertook basic survey training, before being placed into 3 Section of the Company operating in the Sale area of Victoria. Ray worked with 3 Section at Yarram, Meeniyan, Balook and Camperdown in Victoria before volunteering for the New Guinea Survey Section in June 1942. The New Guinea Survey Section spent 16 months working in the areas surrounding Port Moresby, Kokoda and Wau. Mt Ball was named after Ray, who worked on blazing a jeep trail over the Owen Stanley Ranges. The unit was disbanded upon returning to Townsville (Queensland) in November 1943. Ray then joined 6 Australian Army Topographical Survey Company and worked in Queensland and in Lae and Wewak (New Guinea). Following the declaration of peace, Ray worked for the Cartographic Company in Bendigo (Victoria), until his discharge on the 3rd of April 1946. 


Edward Francis Hunter

Edward Francis Hunter, familiarly known as Ted, had been a member of the 9th Field Artillery Regiment prior to joining 2 Field Survey Company at Strathfield (New South Wales) in December 1941. He undertook numerous training activities before being placed into 2 Section of the Company. Ted worked with numerous field parties in Sydney, Putty, Kyogle and Nimbin (New South Wales) and Childers (Queensland) and instructed surveyors in astronomy, after completing a training course at Toowoomba. Ted was part of a special detachment of 2 Section that undertook mapping operations in Queensland (at Weipa, Duifken Point and Cape York) before rejoining the Section and working in Cooktown, Laura, Cairns and Longueville (Queensland). Ted transferred to 5 Field Survey Company and, in January 1945, was granted leave to complete the Board of Surveyors Exam, after which he returned to 5 Company and travelled to Morotai (New Guinea) shortly before the Japanese surrender. Until his discharge on the 10th of January 1946, Ted was a member of a small force of men who rounded up the remaining Japanese troops from the Celebres (Indonesia). 



Raymond George Ball and Edward Francis Hunter are only two of the 5500 men who served with the Australian Survey Corps during WWII. Neither claims to be a hero and both attribute the success of the Survey Corpsí operations to the men who commanded them. The personal experiences and memories of their WWII service provides readers with an insight into the personnel who formed the various Companies and Sections of the Australian Survey Corps. They compliment the existing publications dedicated to the general history of the Corps. It is hoped that these two records will spark an interest amongst surviving members of the Australian Survey Corps, the family of deceased members and historians to produce similar autobiographies or biographies to record the lives of other members of the Corps. The post war careers of Ray and Ted were influenced by their service with the Australian Survey Corps during WWII. Hence, an opportunity exists for the discussion of this conflictís influence on the development and adoption of new techniques in the surveying industry.



Anon. 2002. History of the Royal Australian Survey Corps [viewed 25 March 2003].

FitzGerald, L. 1980. Lebanon to Labuan: A Story of Mapping by the Australian Survey Corps, WWII (1939-1945), J. G. Holmes Pty Ltd, Victoria.

Hunt, J. F. 1998. Military Map Makers in Northern Australia 1943-45: No.1 Section 6 Aust. Army Topographical Survey Coy. How, Why, Where and When they Operated, self published, Apollo Bay, Victoria

Lines, J. D. 1999. Maps in All Seasons: A Concise History of the 2/1st Corps Field Survey Company RAE and 2/1st Aust. Army Topographical Survey Company 1940-1945, 2/1st Survey Association, Beaumaris, Victoria.

McRae, H. 1996. Soldier Surveyors: A History of 3 Australian Field Survey Company (AIF) 1940-1945, 3 Australian Field Company (AIF) Association, Sunbury, Victoria.

Viccars, J. S. 1987. History of New Guinea Survey Section later 8 Australian Field Survey Section, self published, Canberra.


Further Information

For further information, please contact:
Michael Green (Supervisor)


School of Surveying and Spatial Information Systems

University of New South Wales



Phone: +61-2-9385-4182
Fax: +61-2-9313-7493