Z-fids Newsletter No. 31

January 2013

      Z - F I D S    N E W S L E T T E R   No. 31   18 Jan 2013

Editor: Andy Smith  (email andy@smitha.demon.co.uk)
Website: www.zfids.org.uk

News from Halley
Pat Power, the 2012 Winter Base Commander, has kindly sent the following
account of activities at Halley this season:

"N9 or not to N9 that is the question?
I'll come back to that later.
At Halley we never do things by half. Halley 6 is now built but that
doesn't mean a quiet season here. We had 4 major projects on the go.
*	The demolition and removal of Halley 5
*	The refurbishment of the Drewry summer accommodation block
*	The new of WASP(workshop and stores project)
*	Snagging works on Halley 6 and rationalisation of Halley 6
project stores containers (over 70 containers in total). There were
also 2 science projects. IceGrav a BAS/Danish survey and BARREL, a NASA
funded project involving high altitude helium balloon launches [to study
the Earths' radiation belts. See: http://relativisticballoons.blogspot.co.uk/]

All this work meant another season where numbers of people exceeded 80
on station.

Halley 5 demolition was completed under schedule and everyone had
returned by Christmas. A dedicated team were dispatched to Halley 5
where they lived in a temporary camp. They worked long hard hours but
all this hard work paid off. It was amazing to see how quickly the
Laws, Piggott and Simpson came down, thanks mainly to the chainsaws!
All that was left after the demolition were the steel girders under the
Laws, everything else with stripped clean. This same workforce was then
back at Halley 6 stripping out the Drewry, ready for refurbishment. As
usual we were waiting for the ES to arrive with some of the parts
required. As I write this, this work is still on-going but should be
completed within the next month, ready to be lived in again next summer.
The Drewry will now only sleep 20 in 2-person rooms with more spacious
living quarters. The snagging works list for the modules is extensive
and has been on-going since the start of the season. A BMS [Building
Management System] specialist was dispatched to Halley at the start of
summer to work through the many problems with the system. He did an
excellent job and the system is now bedded in. There is still plenty to
do for the other trades after the hectic finish to the last summer.
Another issue from the rushed end to the 2012 summer was that we were
left with over 70 containers to sort and ship out. Many hands have been
needed to unstuff containers and organise the stores within. Some was
needed for the snagging, others as spares but the most was surplus to
requirements and had to be sorted for shipping out.

This leads me nicely to my opening statement. 
The ES was on the horizon so we headed to the Creeks for a recce. Not
good news! There was over 3 km of sea ice out of the Creeks all the way
from Creek 1 to the Rumples. This was not the only problem. A pressure
ridge had formed along the headlands which was impassable by vehicle
from the multi-year side. With no big winds all summer long and none
forecast it didn't look good. So off we went to N9. A recce showed that
N9 was useable and so decisions had to be made. Not only did we have
the ES to unload but also had to back load a charter ship, the Mary
Arctica, with the demolition waste and containers. Cut a long story
short, we "Manned Up" and chose N9 for both relief sites, a relatively
short 47km away. This meant the station moved across to 24 hr working
patterns to get the job done. We unloaded the ES in 4 days, including
1300 drums and over half a km of cargo line. Not bad going. The ES
pulled out and then the Mary Arctica came alongside. We shifted over
526 tonnes or just under 3000 cubic metres of waste and containers.
This also added another 16km to a one way trip as it was all at Halley 5.
Each vehicle rotation was taking 9-10 hours. Thank God we still had
4 prime movers. Two of these have now been loaded onto the Mary Arctica
for sale in Cape Town. The Mary Arctica also delivered 16 containers
that were the main parts of the new WASP buildings. These then had to
be unloaded at Halley 6, which added to our logistical nightmares, we
only had one Mantis crane, which was needed in two locations at once.
All in all we back-loaded the Mary Artica in 5 days.

So as you see another busy season at Halley. We wouldn't have any other
Pat Power, WBC"

Demolition of Halley V
Pat's report above mentions this as one of the major projects for the
current season. There are some pictures of the demolition on Peter
Sterling's blog site (link on the Z-Fids 2011 page). Click on
'Antarctic Demolition'. He also gives this description of the work:
"We were only on base for a day before the demolition team were off to
the Halley 5 site to begin the destruction. It was as if the occupants
had just left for a day out when we got there; food still in the fridge,
plates on the tables, in fact everything all still in place. All this
had to be removed and sorted: Wood/plastic/copper/metal and then things
we could use back at Halley 6 for the refurbishment of the Drewry building
later in the season. It was all sorted and bagged for recycling; we
have a 9-man environmental team arriving soon to check the site."
All rather sad for former residents of Halley V. It was a great base.

Z-60 Diamond Jubilee Reunion
The Halley 60th Anniversary organising committee has issued new
information about the event which will take place on the weekend of
Friday 7th to Sunday 9th October 2016. This may seem a long time away
but no doubt it will soon come. The information is on the Z-Fids website
and on the BAS Club site (members only). Anyone who attended Z-50 in 2006
will remember what a great event that was. Z-60 promises to be at least
as good. The venue is the same: Park Inn Northampton. If you are
planning to attend, it would help the committee if you could let them
know, via Tony Wincott.

1992 Z5 Winterers 20-year reunion
This was held on RRS Discovery, Dundee, 23rd June 1992. There is a
picture on the Z-Fids 1992 page.

Unusually, but happily, there are no deaths (that I know of) to announce
in this newsletter.

Z-fids website www.zfids.org.uk
Julian Rouse has put some Halley pictures up on the Internet. There is a
link on the Z-Fids 1981 page.

Thanks to Norman Eddleston, copies of the 1971 and 1972 Midwinter
magazines are now available to view on Google docs. Links on the
corresponding Z-Fids pages.

Cattle Carters. Unfortunately by the time the last Newsletter went out,
the film had been removed from YouTube so the link I mentioned on the
1970 page no longer worked. I have now removed it.

Back numbers of this Newsletter are on the site (link on the home page).

Contributions to the website are always welcome. Thanks to the BAS Club
for sponsoring the zfids.org.uk Internet domain.

Seal hunting
Bob Lee (Tractor mechanic 1961, 1962) comments:
"A brief note on John [Griffiths] and your mention of "hunting" seals.
During my first year at Halley Bay I was responsible for "hunting" and
killing a total of seventy Weddell seals. The process was simple. One
would put the muzzle of the Lee-Enfield .303 calibre rifle on to the back
of the head of the seal and blow its brain out. We, I, would cut its
throat and then gut the poor beast, save its delicious liver for
food and then tow it back up the ice shelf back to the base - about
two miles distance then."

Decca WF1 & WF2 windfinding radars
Clive Sweetingham has sent in the following:
"I am doing an article on the WF1 and WF2 radars at Halley (the WF2 I know
well and the associated pain which went with keeping it going ...!!).
I know when it was installed in the 67/68 season, but have no information
as to when it left the base, or what happened to it. Does anyone know?
I believe WF1 was installed in the IGY - when did that leave base?
I know at one time it was at the Science Museum, but not sure whether
it still is? Again, grateful of any information. Does anyone have any
photos of WF1 at Halley?"
If anyone can provide Clive with the answers to his queries or provide
him with a WF1 picture, please contact him (mailto link on the 1975 page).

The Fanhitch
Doggymen may wish to know that the latest (December 2012) is now on the
website http://thefanhitch.org/

Of course this is well-known Fid slang for the great Antarctic
outdoors. Apparently it comes from a Bantu word for the wild areas of
South Africa (sometimes spelled bundu or bundoo). I was wondering
whether or not it was in Antarctic use prior to the establishment of
Halley Bay in 1956. Two South African meteorologists were taken on
for the first year of Fids in 1959. Perhaps they brought the term
onto base. Alternatively it could have arrived via a seconded RAF
serviceman (bondu bashing is apparently RAF slang).

Sophia Loren
In the last Newsletter, Keith Gainey asked if anyone knew who painted the
picture of Sophia Loren and when. It turns out it was Peter Blakely in 1962.
To see the picture and some wrong guesses, click the link on the
1967 page.
Cuba Missile Crisis
Bob Lee wrote in October 2012:
"Just a note on the fiftieth anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Several of us were in the Old Met office in the lower (old) base hut
listening to Willis Conoverís Jazz Hour on Voice of America. It was
then that we heard President Kennedy announce the blockade of Cuba. If I
remember correctly, we all thought this might be World War III and the
anxiety that came along with waiting for the 'Kista Dan' to arrive."

Eliason motor toboggan
Clive Sweetingham sent in a photo of this machine for the 1975 webpage.
He wonders what happened it. Does anyone know?

Ferguson Tractors
Some Halley Fids provided David Lory with information about the Ferguson
tractors used in the early days at Halley Bay (and also by Hillary on
the TAE). David has sent this progress report:
"I have not forgotten the article that I was going to write on Ferguson
tractors at Halley Bay. Originally I was going to just have a small article
on Halley Bay at the end of the TAE, but have received so much information
and great photos from members of Halley Bay that we decided to do a
separate article on Halley Bay and Deception Island latter this year.
We did not want to have too much on Antarctic at one time so wanted to
spread it out. If you would like to read the two part article that I did
on the TAE it can be viewed at:
The titles of the article are:  Fergusonís Snow Cats, Weasels and a

Balloon launches
Ian Buckler: "Many thanks for No. 30 - very amusing in parts - they had
not apparently learnt the art of LYING ALONG the edge of the roof of
the balloon shed and then giving the balloon a long arm to fend it off and 
up as it rose - this saved many a gas refill with all its terrors of
WET BLOW BACK. John Griffiths was an ace at windy launches."

Pete Clarkson: "Many thanks for yet another interesting newsletter
(No. 30). The item by Tony Baker about the construction of new balloon
shed at the 1964/65 relief reminds me of my own experience following
the 1967/68 relief that, coincidentally, also involved Tony Baker.
A new balloon shed arrived at the 1967/68 relief and the building team
of Tony Baker, Dave Hill and Al Smith managed to assemble the main
structure before they left on the ship. The heavy sliding roof doors
were a particular struggle and Al Smith must have nearly burst a blood
vessel as he heaved to get them into position so that they would actually
slide open. The ship left, complete with the builders except for
John "Golly" Gallsworthy who was still in the field with Nick Mathys
and the Mobsters returning from the Shackleton Range route reconnaissance. 
The next morning we found, painted on one wall of the shed, the following
message: "We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;
And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there
is no heath [sic] in us."  We thought this was simply an apology for not
having completed the building. Then Chris Sykes, Base Commander, asked
Harry Wiggans and myself to complete the building by erecting the interior
"hut" in the corner that would house the Gill hydrogen generator. 
At least we had the plans but, try as we might, we could not see how
the prefabricated sections of the Gill hut would fit against one of the
interior walls. We pored over the plans for some considerable time until
we realised that one of the walls of the main shed had been built
upside-down so that all the noggings on the inside of this outer wall
were in the wrong place. Then we also realised the true meaning of the
quotation from the General Confession in the Book of Common Prayer! 
In true Fid fashion we managed to modify the wall of the Gill hut and
complete the structure. It was at least another two years before I saw
Dave Hill again when I could take him to task over the error. He
apologised for the trouble caused but added that painting the quotation
on the outside of the shed nearly caused a nasty accident to himself
and Tony Baker as they drunkenly struggled with a ladder and a pot of
paint after the farewell party at the end of the relief."

Gavin Francis
Gavin, the doctor in 2003, has recently published a book:
"Empire Antarctica" about his year at Halley. More details on his
website www.gavinfrancis.com
Readers might also be interested in an article Gavin has written in
the Times Supplement, about Halley in the winter
and one earlier in the month in Granta, about Shackleton's medical kit
and what we stock in the Field Medical Boxes of today

Shackleton ICE
While on the subject of Shackleton, thanks to Peter Jenkins for the link

"Antarctic Observatory" film
The last newsletter mentioned this film by Johannes Bothma taken at
Halley Bay in 1959, recently digitised and with a commentary added by
Nelson Norman. Several readers contacted me about getting a copy of
this and should now have received one. If anyone else would like a
copy, there is a very good deal in which you can get the DVD together
with Nelson's book "In Search of a Penguin's Egg" for £10 plus P&P.
Contact Duncan Lockerbie at Lumphanan Press: duncan@lumphananpress.co.uk

BAS Club AGM & reunion 2013
This event will be held at Alnwick on 22nd June 2013. Details are on the
BAS Club website (members only). If you are not a member of the Club,
why not consider joining? It is well worth while.

South 2015 - A voyage to remember
A 21 day voyage is being planned to coincide with the dedication of the
British Antarctic Monument in the Falkland Islands in February 2015.
It will also visit South Georgia, Signy, the historic British bases on
the Antarctic Peninsula and the areas of exploration of those men and
women who "did not return." It is planned to penetrate deep South where
few tour ships visit. It is being organised by the British Antarctic
Monument Trust in association with Tudor Morgan, an experienced Antarctic
guide. This specialist bespoke tour is intended for family, friends,
Antarctic veterans and Trust supporters, but is open to interested 
members of the public who wish to visit parts of the Peninsula rarely
visited by tour ships. For more information, see:

BAS - NOC merger
Thousands, including many Halley Fids, signed the petition against this
proposal, and made other representations. In the end NERC backed down
and abandoned the merger. BAS is currently advertising for a new
director to lead the organisation through the undoubtedly difficult
times which still lie ahead. Meanwhile Alan Rodger is interim director.

British Antarctic Oral History Project
More edited extracts from the transcripts (see
www.antarctica.ac.uk/oralhistory) are reproduced below. A number of new
volunteers have recently strengthened the project, but more are still

Mike Pinnock: A 'Brian Rix' moment
"In 1978 I was in charge of the dogs and one of the new guys on base 
said that he was very keen on learning how to run the dogs. Now any
doggy man will tell you the dogs were very very sensitive to voice,
to tone of voice. I guess it is authority. I wouldn't claim to have
been a great dog driver but the dogs generally did what I wanted. I
knew the way this chap spoke. He was very softly spoken with a slight
hesitancy at times as well, and the dogs were not likely to have a
great deal of respect. I kept fobbing him off but by March I said
'Fine, you come out with me.' I said 'Look, this is what we do. When
you start off, the dogs are just wild with enthusiasm and unless you
get a clean getaway, a fight will start and it can ruin your day. So
we have got to get away very quickly. Once we have got the last dog
clipped on the harness, I will run to the back of the sledge, pull
out the ice axe, "Hup, dogs, away!" and we will charge off. I will
let them run to the base perimeter and then you will start to hear me
give the commands that bring them under control, and we will go down
to the coast.' So we did that and Tom sat on the sledge. This was my
second winter and I always used to keep a complete spare set of
clothing for when we went out on field trips because that kept you
warmer. So the clothes I was wearing were over a year old, were very
worn and threadbare and I hadn't been doing my needlework; my
trousers were actually held up with a bit of string. As I ran to the
back of the sledge, the string holding up my trousers snapped and my
trousers fell down around my ankles. This happened after I had pulled
the ice anchor out. So the dogs charged off, with me lying flat on my
face. We had the trail rope on the sledge. I automatically grabbed
the trail rope out of instinct at which point I found myself being
dragged across the bondu with all this snow and ice balling up
between my legs, and my trousers around my ankles. After a while I
thought 'This is very painful, very cold. Stop it!' So I let go of
the rope at which point, of course, Tom and the dogs just charged off
into the distance. Tom then, to his alarm, sat there with the dogs
and sledge going through the base perimeter and he thought 'Well I
thought Mike said he was going to get them under control.' He turned
round and realised he was completely on his own with this dog team.
There was someone on base who was working outside and he collapsed in
so much laughter, having seen all this happen, that I think it took
him a full five minutes before he could get a skidoo started and dash
off across the bondu. As he drew level with the sledge, this chap was
sat on it saying [in a quiet voice] 'I say, Ah now, ah now.' The dogs
were just head-down, charging away. So anyway the guy on the skidoo
managed to head the dogs off and got them under control."
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/150.

Dudley Jehan: The Lansing Snowplane
"Bunny Fuchs was doing a lecture tour in Canada, and he had a call at
his hotel from a salesman, saying 'Sir Vivian, if you look out of the
window [and he was on the fifth floor] you will see in the car park
below, a snowplane. We would like you to come and look at it'. He said
these people badgered him for over a year, trying everything.
Eventually BAS bought one and sent it to Halley. It weighed 12 cwt,
which was a very light sports car. It had an aero engine on the back
of 300-400 brake horsepower with a propeller. The power to weight
ratio was phenomenal. It didn't have any brakes. If you had the right
surface conditions it would probably do 80 mph. That was the
theoretical speed. We never got anything like that because the snow
conditions were very different from Canada where they would use these
as sports planes, shooting around the place. The first problem was:
when it had sat on the snow for a while, you couldn't get it moving.
You had to break it free as with a dog sledge. You shook it, then you
had to push and eventually off it went. You are sitting in the plane,
with this 400 brake horsepower aero engine behind you, and nothing is
happening. So you get out and shake it and try and move it but you
have to be a bit careful because the next thing is, it goes 'Shhummp'!
Vibration was a problem. Imagine putting an engine on top of a very
light aluminium frame. There were no rubber mountings to suppress the
vibration, because at -40C rubber goes virtually solid. So it was
another machine, rather like the Eliason, that was designed to shake
itself apart, and it is pretty easy to make a machine that will
shake itself apart. It was another of these vehicles that in theory
was very attractive. I had great fun with it because I used it in my
last year as a BC's run-around, around Halley. I read online, some time
ago, that it had finished up being buried [though it was dug up again
more than once]. They just abandoned it. They gave up on it. The idea
of this whirring propeller over your head was not very pleasant, but
there we are. It was great fun."
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/172.

Many thanks to all contributors to this Newsletter.

Registrations and email updates
As usual this newsletter is being sent out by email only, to 446
people. If you are on email but have not received it by that route,
please register or re-register on the website (links on the home
page). 409 people have now registered on Z-fids. If you have, your
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19 June 2013
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