Z-fids Newsletter No. 32

June 2013

      Z - F I D S    N E W S L E T T E R   No. 32   17 Jun 2013

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


News from Halley
The Base Commander, Agnieszka Fryckowska, has sent the following news:
"Winter has well and truly set in at VI now as we find ourselves
dealing with the colder temps, lack of light and the frequent blows.
Popping out to put out the food waste in a T-shirt just isn't going to
cut it any more and the full battle gear is being put on! It's a
gradual but seemingly steep decline into the depths of winter and we
have found ourselves commenting at how quickly it seemed to happen and
how did we miss the transition. Of course it's been busy and this
station is certainly keeping us on its toes. All the usual activities
are of course reliant on the weather so we are constantly juggling the
fuelling, melt tank and waste management days to take advantage of the
warm snaps after the blows. So any break in the weather not only has
the tech services teams running about but the science team are
flossing*, measuring, checking and tending to their various
experiments. In the last few weeks we have started to experience some
heavy blows with winds in the 50-60 kt range which had us
confined for the first time this winter. The wind seems set now to stay
and the landscape around us is quickly changing. Thank goodness we
raised the handlines!

Indents and orders for next year have also featured highly on the hot
topics list and even being the second winter, the 'new home' syndrome
is still apparent as we find bits we didn't know we had and then others
we forgot to get. I have moved the crockery so many times now I don't
really know where to put it! With the long dark days setting in the
productivity in workshops has suddenly sky-rocketed but not work. It's
winter present making time and seeing what folk have made in the past
is adding to the pressure to make not only the best present but the
most suitable for your receiver. Cloaked discussions are occurring all
around station as folk 'wonder is there is a spare clock mechanism
about?' and the Brasso supplies suddenly diminish. But morale is high
and we are looking forward to Mid Winters Day and all the activities that
surround it. It is truly a special event that is remembered well and a
tradition we are all very happy to keep running. Thanks to all the past
winterers for keeping it going and I wish you all the best this Mid
Winters Day."
* I understand this mean clearing hoar frost off the aerials. - Ed.

The station diaries for January - April 2013 are now available (link on
the 2013 page of www.zfids.org.uk)

Opening of Halley VI
Although Halley VI had been in use over winter 2012, the official
opening did not take place until 5th February this year. The ceremony
at the station was attended by Mike Pinnock from BAS, Ed Wallis the
NERC chairman, and Jeremy Clayton from the Department of Business
Innovation & Skills. Simultaneously there was an event held at the
Royal Society in London, attended by David Willetts, the Minster for
Universities and Science, and many others who had made contributions to
or had an interest in Halley VI. The chaps on base sent back a video
greeting which may be viewed on the BAS website.


Sadly, as usual, there are deaths to announce.

Chris Brown
Dr Chris Brown has died at the age of 92. He was the medical officer at
Halley Bay in 1960. While sledging he fell into a crevasse but was
rescued by Edwin Thornton who was awarded a medal for this. After
returning from the Antarctic, Chris was a GP in Wareham, Dorset for
many years. He continued to maintain a keen interest in things polar.
A full obituary is in the May 2013 BAS Club Magazine.

Joe Farman
Joe died on 11 May 2013, following a stroke. He was a brilliant
scientist and famous for discovering, with Brian Gardiner and Jonathan
Shanklin, the ozone hole in the stratosphere. This was based mainly on
the analysis of data from the Dobson spectrophotometer meticulously
collected by generations of Halley observers. He wintered at Argentine
Islands (Base F) in 1957-58, later visiting Halley in the summer.
Bob Wells says: "Great is an overused word, but there is no doubt that
Joe was a great scientist. His ozone hole work, one of Nature's 20th
century highlights, has impacted generations of atmospheric scientists.
Joe understood how the stratosphere works. For a man who avoided the
limelight, his policy work was brave and enormously influential. He was
generous with his criticism and support for his colleagues. He was
critical, but full of kindness and good humour. It was a privilege to
know Joe, and to work with him. We will miss him terribly. Joe is
survived by Paula, his wife and a friend for 54 years."

Dave Holmes
David Holmes was killed in a motorbike accident on Saturday 8th June.
David was just 38. David had just completed his first winter in 2012 as
an Electronics Engineer. He was part of the first wintering team to over
winter at Halley VI. Pat Power writes:
"Dave was a great guy who always had plenty to say. He was thoroughly
liked around station and got on with his fellow Fids. Dave was always
off pottering around making new gadgets and was also involved in the
testing and modification of the "Halley 6 Pulse Jet"! [See Sam
Burrell's blog; link on 2012 page. - Ed.] Dave had taken a gap in his
career as a technician for Anglian Water to come to Halley to install
and maintain the new science at Halley 6, in which he did a great job.
Dave was doing what he loved most when he was tragically killed after
he had spent the day with fellow winterers at a bike meeting. The whole
wintering team are deeply shocked and Dave will be sadly missed. Our
thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time."

Halley Flying Club
Gordon Devine has written a nice little story about when Jay Rushby,
the radar mechanic in 1971, was helping to put the canvas cover back on
the balloon shed after the daily flight, in the dark of the middle of
winter, when he took a tumble and broke his leg. After a somewhat
complicated rescue operation involving the old Nansen sledge used to
transport the lumps of seal meat for the dogs, Jay was brought to the
surgery and the care of the Doc [himself a member of the Flying Club
after falling on the 'dozer blade while digging out the armco ramp].
Gordon concludes: "That afternoon the cooks, Ian Bury and Keith, had
made a large butter-iced currant cake for someone's birthday. We stood
around in our windproofs telling rugged tales of the rescue while
scoffing the cake. This event came at the right time, as it was deep in
winter, we were fed up with the darkness and Jay had done us a favour
by creating a genuine team building venture. Jay if you ever read this,
'Cheers mate for your self-sacrificing nature'. " You can read the full
story by clicking 'Flying Club' in the General Index on the Z-Fids
website www.zfids.org.uk
Are there any other stories about the Gill hydrogen generator in use at
that time?

Stan Evans
Stan, who was the physicist in the 11-man Advance Party of the Royal
Society IGY Expedition (which built the original hut at Halley Bay in
1956), has written an article about the expedition, which can be found
from the 1956 page of the Z-Fids website.

Z-fids website www.zfids.org.uk
Apart from the above additions, Ian Jones has provided some photos from
1982 and 1983. See the Z-Fids pages for those years.

Thanks to Norman Eddleston, it is now possible to read the Midwinter
magazines for 1969 (Feenix), 1970 (Mushroom), 1971 (Slush) and 1972
(Splode). Links are on the relevant year pages of the website.

Articles and photos for the website are always welcome.

Z60; Halley Bay Diamond Jubilee Celebration
Preparations for this event, expected to be at least as successful as
Z50, are now under way. The event will take place on 7-9 October 2016
at the Park Inn, Northampton (the same venue as Z50). Please let Tony
Wincott know if you plan to attend. More information is available on
the Z-Fids website (link from the home page) and also from its own
dedicated website (link from Z-Fids).

Decca WF1 & WF2 windfinding radars
Clive Sweetingham had a good response to his appeal in the last
Newsletter for information about the radars and has now extensively
documented their use in the Antarctic in his World Naval Ships forum.
There are links to the articles on the 1957 and 1968 Z-fids webpages,

Ferguson Tractors at Halley Bay
Following the article in the last Z-Fids Newsletter, David Lory of FENA
(Ferguson Enthusiasts of North America) has published 6-page article,
based on information provided by several Halley people, about Ferguson
tractors at Halley Bay in the early days. The article is Part 1 of a
two-part series. It is in Issue 61 (June 2013) of "Ferguson Furrows",
the FENA magazine, and contains a dozen full-colour pictures. The cover
has a full page picture by Les Barclay of a Ferguson tractor with a
comment by Les in the caption that they spent a day unsuccessfully
trying to dig a tunnel from the main hut to the radio echo hut. David
has sent copies of the magazine to those who contributed. Part 2 will
be in a future issue of the magazine. The articles should appear on the
Internet in due course.

Eliason motor toboggan
Graham Chambers has pointed out that the photo of the Eliason Motor
toboggan on the 1975 Z-Fids webpage (mentioned in the last Newsletter)
is not the real Elsan. He still wonders what happened to that. Can
anyone help?

1977 wintering team reunion
Ken Lax writes:
"[The reunion will be held on] 26 October 2013 in Shrewsbury. We meet
every two years. John Wright and Phil Hart are both resident in Canada
and they will not be able to make this year's reunion, but apart from
those with whom we have lost contact, everyone should be there. We have
lost contact with the following base members: Peter Edwards (GA),
believed to be resident in Switzerland; Tom Forsythe (Radio Op); Dave
Hogg (Beastie); Jim Oliver (Cook), last heard of catering for film
crews; Andy Quinn (Geo), possibly in Australia. If anyone has any
information about any of them we would be pleased to receive it so we
can follow it up."

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). The dinner is now fully booked.

Appeal for artwork from John Skipworth
"I have obtained a blazer badge from Halley Station showing the triple
sun, the Southern Cross, a penguin and blue & white wavy lines. This
was from an original painting that used to adorn the central pillar
above the stove in the lounge, painted, I believe, by Peter Blakeley.
As a member of the Diamond Jubilee (Z60) committee, I am trying to find
and get hold of a copy of the original art work, not the painting but
the art work that was used in the production of the blazer badge, I
have tried through BAS but no luck. The intention is to use that
picture on some of the souvenirs that will be on sale at Z60. I am
requesting that anyone who might have this art work let me have a
copy." Please contact Skip, email jskipw8106@aol.com

The Fan Hitch
The latest issue (March 2013) of this sledge dog magazine is at

British Antarctic Oral History Project
More edited extracts from the transcripts (see
www.antarctica.ac.uk/oralhistory) are reproduced below.

Ken Powell: Tractors on and off
"On my trip to Halley Bay, on the Tottan which was a Norwegian sealer,
there was quite a send-off. I was responsible for the diesel generators
and the tractors, four tractors, and while we were just chatting to
parents, waiting for the ship to sail, they suddenly decided there was
too much deck cargo, and two of the tractors had to come off. So I
rapidly took the important parts of the engines off, for extra spares.
They took the tractors off; then they suddenly had a change of mind and
put the tractors back on again. So I had got two tractors that had been
partly dismantled, so on the way down I had to put it all together
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/162.

Ken Lax: An inflammable toilet
"[The work on the toilets] was quite revolutionary really, because the
toilets at Halley are something that comes up at every reunion, every
Halley Bay reunion, and they were basically very large holes dug in the
ice, and then they put a 45-gallon drum over the top, with the top and
the bottom cut out, and a tailor-made seat to sit on. Everything just
went down into this pit and froze solid, but it didn’t freeze
uniformly, because it was obviously frozen before the excrement hit the
bottom. So it used to form into a stalagmite, which was known as a
‘turdicle’, and periodically somebody had to abseil down there and hack
the turdicle down, which was not a very nice job, and not one for which
there were a lot of volunteers, I can tell you. But anyway I decided
that there had to be a better way to do this, having had this for two
years. What we did was: we had some Elsan fluid in the stores there, so
we mixed Elsan fluid with avtur, as an antifreeze, and we put it in the
bottom of a 45-gallon drum, and we built some new stalls in a shaft near
the genny shed, with very nice seats on them and a little step to
get up.

Then everything fell into the Elsan, just like a normal chemical
toilet, and then we put a polythene sheet over the top, and Pete Witty
had made a bracket that you could screw up to hold it all tightly. Then
we would lift it out of the base and take it away and deposit it, a
much more hygienic and a much more pleasant experience. Unfortunately
it meant that you had to chisel off the lids of two drums each week,
which was quite hard work with a hammer and chisel, but anyway we did
it and we always used an avtur drum for this. But one day, some bright
spark used a petrol drum, because the ratio of petrol to avtur was
huge. We had relatively little need for petrol but we had a huge need
for avtur. They chiselled this off, down it went into position and the
Elsan went in and the avtur went in, and the first person to use that
trap was Bunny Houlcroft, the tractor mechanic. He was a heavy smoker;
he was smoking his cigarette and he dropped it into the toilet.
Unfortunately there were still enough petrol fumes to ignite. So he
burned his bottom and his ‘family jewels’, cursed everybody roundly,
and we had to make sure for ever after that we only used avtur drums."
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/190.

Many thanks to all contributors to this Newsletter.

Registrations and email updates
As usual this newsletter is being sent out by email only, to 444
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). 410 people have now registered on Z-fids. If you have, your
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21 October 2013
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