Z-fids Newsletter No. 36

April 2015

      Z - F I D S    N E W S L E T T E R   No. 36   10 Apr 2015

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

News from Halley

There are thirteen winterers this year. Tom Welsh, the 2015 winter
station leader (new name for base commander) reports:
"We have had a really positive start to winter here at Halley; all
winter trips have now returned and we are in the process of gathering
materials for our midwinter presents."

Following the powerdown incident last year, a Halley Recovery Plan was
set up to "deliver improved station resilience" before the next
winter. Extra people, kit and spares were sent in at the beginning of
summer. As well as repairing defects, the plan also included
additional training and emergency drills. The Plan was successfully
completed over the summer and the station was declared safe to
overwinter. A report will be published into the powerdown incident.
The head of operations at BAS, Captain Tim Stockings, says: "Halley,
like all our stations, is a great place; it does fantastic science
but we have only just started to scratch the surface of what this
incredible station could be capable of."

Ice prevented the RRS Ernest Shackleton from getting into Halley for
the planned end of season call in March. The summer crew were flown
out via Rothera.

This year's wintering doctor, Nathalie Pattyn, will study how people
adapt to life in remote and isolated locations in preparation for
prolonged space flight. One of these experiments has been set up in
collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), and uses a
specially designed spaceflight simulator.  Related experiments will
be carried out at the French/ Italian Concordia station high on the
Antarctic plateau. The comparison with the sea level results will 
enable scientists to investigate the influence of lower oxygen levels.
More information is available on the BAS and ESA websites.


Sadly, as usual, there are deaths to announce.

Charlie Forrest
Dr Charles Robert Forrest, who died peacefully in Hong Kong on the 7th
of December 2014, was the doctor at Halley Bay in 1960. During the
Second World War he had served as a medic with General Wingate's
"Chindits" and was Mentioned in a Despatch for distinguished service
in Burma. After service with FIDS, he worked in Zimbabwe and finally
for 20 years in the Hong Kong Medical Service.

Bill Bellchambers
Bill Bellchambers died on the 20th of January this year. Bill was a
member of the Royal Society International Geophysical Year Expedition,
and was the leader of the ionospheric team. He spend the winters of
1957 and 1958 at Halley Bay. Half a solar cycle later he was at Halley
for another two years: 1964 and 1965, this time with BAS, for the
International Quiet Sun Year (IQSY). He was one of only three people
to have spent four winters at Halley (the other two are Alan 'Dad'
Etchells and Milne Samuel). Later in his career he was involved in the
design of the Automatic Landing System for aircraft. His son Simon
writes: "He was very proud of what he achieved in the Antarctic and
even more proud that he was awarded the Polar Medal."

Simon Levitt
Simon passed away very suddenly an unexpectedly on 11th November 2014
at the age of 48. Simon was the plumber at Halley in 1989. His widow
Michaela writes "He was very proud to have had the opportunity to have
had such a wonderful experience during his time in the Antarctic. He
often reminisced and shared pictures of his adventures and daily

Z-fids website www.zfids.org.uk
The 2015 page has now been uploaded. There are links to three great
blogs, by Alex Finch, Celine Lett, and David Goodger. Bob Lee
contributed a map of routes in the Bob-Pi area of the Dawson-
Lambton Glacier (1962 page). Lewis Juckes has written an article for
the Postal Heritage website (link from the 1965 page). There are links
to the 1961 "Halley Comet" (bottom of the 1961 page).

New BAS Club website
The site has been revamped and is no longer on the BAS server. It is
now on a new site: www.basclub.org 
There is quite an extensive Members Only section and BAS Club members
should have an individual login name and password. Ellie Stoneley is
the committee member who is looking after the website.

Following the article in Z-Fids Newsletter No. 35 about artefacts
going missing, Michael Ramage, the wintering doctor in 2010, wrote in:
"I wintered in 2010 and as I recall at least one of our lot traced and
copied the brass Antarctica from the bar, leaving the original in place. 
In addition, I know that during the breakup of Halley V, an awful lot
of the stuff which had been kept for many a year was chucked out. Some
was rubbish but quite a bit was felt to be too much hassle. I heard
the big old Norwegian stove from the bar was dumped in the wind scoop.
Something of a shame, I think, given how much work went into some of
the stuff, and how keen some of us would have been to keep hold of
it." One cannot help but agree.

Iain MacInnes
Tony Wincott is trying to contact Iain MacInnes who was the diesel
mechanic at Halley in 1973 and 1974. He is believed to be in the
Newcastle area. If anyone knows his current contact details, please
let Tony or me know. 

JATO bottle
Bob Well 14 Nov
Bob Wells has written on this subject, and sent a couple of photos.
These are on the website but I quote some of his piece here:
"I was encouraged by the recent discussion of JATO bottles at
Halley II to look through some old slides and found  a couple that
may be of general interest. The first, taken in 1969, shows 7 bottles
and a box of fuses on the outside dumps. The 8th bottle was already
mounted as an ashtray at the entrance to the library from the lounge
where Mick Dixon found it in 1984. I understood that the bottles had
been offloaded from the US C130 Hercules which evacuated John
Brotherhood and which was fitted with mounting points for a total of
8 bottles (four each side of the fuselage).  Possibly the bottles were
left at Halley to save weight (and drag) on what was very much a
pioneering trans-continental flight. However it should be noted that
in the late 60s the US aircrews were often in the Antarctic to get
some light relief from duties in the Vietnam war and few had the same
regard for flight safety as your average Easyjet crew today.

When subsequent visiting C130 aircraft crews showed no interest in
retrieving their rockets, FIDS of the era inevitably had all sorts of
suggestions as to how JATO bottles might be adapted for to make a form
of rapid transport! During one visit a pilot explained in some detail
that (very expensive) JATO was only useful for take-off at high
altitude - you can't fire the jets until you have raised the front ski
and, at sea level, if you can unstick the front ski you can get a Herc
airborne without extra assistance. (This discussion took place in the
aforementioned lounge and continued for several hours of 'crew-rest'
while the base beer supply got somewhat depleted.) Consequently it was
with some surprise that we heard on their departure the order to mount
their JATOs (not 'ours'!). The aircraft (with a FID-modified
registration number) taxied some distance away from base and then
turned towards us for take-off. Within a few seconds of full thrust the
nose ski was high in the air, but it was surfaced again until the
aircraft was close to the assembled photographers' gallery when it
shot up again and we were then treated to the spectacle of 8 JATOs
firing at close quarters."

Z60; Halley Bay Diamond Jubilee Celebration
7th - 9th  of October 2016 Park Inn, Northampton.
78 not including accommodation. Email: Z60Celebration2016@gmail.com
Keep up to date with the latest news on Facebook: Halley ZFids Z60

After the events during the 2014 Antarctic winter at Halley we see
that while life may be cushier than the old lags remember (it was
hell) nonetheless stuff still happens. On that note no doubt at the
60th anniversary of Halley, Base Z, there will be some new rugged
tales to be heard. Preparations continue to make this a memorable event. 

The celebration will include a gala dinner, webcast with the wintering
Z6 team, exhibition of memorabilia, nostalgic movies, behind-the-scenes
film of Halley 6's construction, talks from eminent Antarcticans and
more. All Z-Fids are welcome as well as anyone who has ever been to
Halley, or frankly just adores the place.

For booking forms, latest updates, contact numbers and details on
volunteering go to the Z60 website:

To help the organising team gauge potential numbers and to assist
further planning with the venue we urge attendees to send deposits
as soon as possible. A list of those who have registered so far is on
the website. The Park Inn is now accepting accommodation bookings for
the weekend. A large range of clothing and mugs are now available.
For full details visit the website.

There is a funding mechanism available and a member of the Committee
has been appointed to look at requests from Z-Fids who wish to attend
but find that their financial circumstances or mobility make it
somewhat difficult to commit. These requests will be considered and
treated in the strictest confidence by the Committee and should be
addressed to Z60 Committee Chairman, Mr Gordon Devine, 34, Chudleigh,
Freshbrook, Swindon, Wilts SN5 8NQ (01793 344186).

Halley Bay 1977 bi-annual reunion
Ken Lax reports: "The wintering team of 1977 will be having their
bi-annual reunion at the Lion Hotel in Shrewsbury in October this
year. We have been unable to establish contact with the following
winterers: Peter Edwards, Tom Forsyth, Dave Hogg, Jim Oliver, Andy
Quinn. We have confirmed attendance from Steve Emery, George Morgan,
Ian Somerton, Mike Pinnock, Michael Davies, Pete Anderson-Witty,
Barry Gardiner, Iain Levack, John Bradford and Ken Lax. Strong
possibles from Michael Houlcroft, Phil Hart (Canada), John Wright
(Canada) and Steve Chambers. Harry Matthews is in Japan and will
join us on a telephone link.

David Rampton
Does anyone know the whereabouts of a David Rampton who took a photo
of the Bransfield at Halley? The photo is in BAS Archives and Tom
Woodfield would like to use it in a book he has written. He would like
to contact David for copyright reasons.

Dog chart
Denis Wilkins would like to discover the whereabouts of the dog chart
which used to be on the wall at Halley when he was there (in 1969).
Does anyone know?

Jeremy Bailey
Jeremy Bailey was one of the three men tragically killed in the 1965
crevasse accident in the Tottan Mountains. His brother, Brian Dorsett-
Bailey, has a photo of him on the sea ice, greeting an emperor penguin,
with the Kista Dan in the background. You can see the photo by
clicking the Jeremy Bailey link at the bottom of the Z-Fids 1965 page.
Brian would very much like to know who it was that took the photo.
Does anyone know?
A monument to all Fids who died in Antarctica, including the five at
Halley, was dedicated in Stanley on 25th February this year. For
details, see the British Antarctic Monument Trust website (link on the
Z-Fids homepage).

British Antarctic Oral History Project
More edited extracts from the transcripts (see
www.antarctica.ac.uk/oralhistory) are reproduced below. Dogs in
crevasses is the subject this time.

Ben Hodges: Dog rescue; 'We got them all up.'
"We had to traverse round the bowl above Sodabread, to start to drop
down Sodabread itself, because that's the way we came up. So I took
the ropes brakes off, after we had gone over the top, and I set off
traversing. The next team came over. They were a fair way behind me.
I am travelling along, contouring, trying to get round, the sledge
slipping sideways. You have got 'keels' you can put down through the
runners which will help that. But we were going sideways, the dogs
partially pulling uphill, going forward at an angle. Then, all of a
sudden, Dot disappeared. It was semi-whiteout. If the visibility is
good you can see where the snow bridge might be hollow, but I did not
see this because it was semi-whiteout, the sky merging with the
ground. So suddenly the lead dog Dot disappeared. Then the pair behind
her disappeared as well. Then - zip, zip - they all went down. I think
I had seven at that stage, after the long journey. The sledge was then
pointing uphill, and it was almost on the edge of the crevasse, almost
at right angles, not running with it, because the sledge has been
slipping down the slope at the same time. So I pulled the sledge over
and shouted to the guy I was with "Pull it over and make sure it's not
going to slide." And we pulled it over so it could not drag. I crawled
to the end of the trace and I looked down. I thought they had all
gone. My eyes got used to it and there they all were hanging in their
harnesses. We make our own harnesses from lampwick. We make them a
snug and strong fit, so they don't fall out. They were all hanging in
mid air.

The other teams were following in my tracks by now. So I shouted to
them. "Come down from above. Take your load off. Picket the dogs. Push
the sledge over the crevasse, and I will go down and pull them out one
at a time." Which I did. They lowered me down on a rope tied once round
the sledge. I did not have any jumar stirrups. I was just desperate to
get the dogs out. Two of them were fighting - in mid-air! I got down
to the back pair. I said "Send me a rope down, with a karabiner on,
and I will clip it on a harness, take one off, pull her up, and keep
repeating". Before we got this bridge set up, I kept looking down.
There were two fighting, and when I looked a second or third time,
they had disappeared. They had actually fallen out of their harnesses.
I thought "Well, they've gone". I could almost see Dot but not these
other two. They dropped me down and pulled each dog out in turn, I
clipped them on. I got down to Dot and said "Dot, you've fallen the
farthest". Then I looked down and there was a big block of ice wedged
in the crevasse and on this ice which had soft snow on the top were
the two that had fallen out. They were not fighting any more. They
were lying quietly there. I thought "I am going to get them all". I
went down to them. One was called Eccles; he was a big dog. I put a
harness on his two front legs and a harness on his two back legs, put
them both together, and he went up with his back hollow, because he
would have fallen out. We got them all up like that. We sent each dog
up singly and they were all pulled out. Because I did not have jumar
stirrups (I think I had crampons on), the guys at the top gradually
hauled me up."
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/44.

Graham ('Genghis') Wright: Loss of the Hobbits dog team
"On the Wright Line a whole dog team was lost, the year I went out.
The Hobbits, the whole lot went down a crevasse, sledge as well, never
to return. The whole lot. That was the next year. It was not me; it
was Jack Donaldson. The trouble is, there was an inexperienced base
commander and he sent them to do the hinge zone in the autumn. It
should never have happened. We knew that. All the previous big
journeys out of Halley had been in the spring, and they had come back
in the late spring. You would never go there in the summer because it
was too warm, the snow bridges there. That is what happened in effect,
with the bridges which were too weak. That is how the International
Harvester was lost and the Hobbits dog team was lost."
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/98.

Dave Fletcher: Loss of the Hobbits dog team
"Myself and Jack Donaldson (who was the other GA) had been asked to
look at a new route through the Hinge Zone, on a route that had been
done earlier by Graham Wright. The place was riddled with crevasses.
We got through what we thought was the worst and were flogging our way
up in soft snow but apparently relatively crevasse-free, and what
crevasses there were, were coming straight across us. We were crossing
with absolutely no problem at all. I had my head down pushing and Jack
was leading at that time. I looked up and he was sitting on the snow.
I got to him and he was sitting there, feet in the crevasse and Toby
Stoneham, who was the other lad with him was rolled to one side. It
became obvious then that the sledge had gone through. From talking to
them, the back of the sledge had gone through. The weight of the
sledge had just pulled the dogs in after it. As soon as I got to him I
got those two OK and I thought 'Right, I will abseil down, because
there is probably a snow bridge or something and they will be just
down there.' I abseiled down and I had about 120 feet of rope. I was
just spinning in space; it was black; there was nothing. No sound;
absolutely nothing. I jumared back out again.

About two or three weeks after, we took two vehicles up with another
dog team. We found lots more holes. The whole thing was impossible.
But we got back to the hole to see if we could recover anything off
the sledge, because we had quite a lot of stuff with us like
theodolites. Also to try and map out what was going on. We got there
and we did a full survey of the thing and Jack had been desperately
unlucky. The crevasse had come across and then for about 30 metres
it had done literally a ninety degree loop, and he had hit it exactly
parallel on the bit that was level with him. That was what he had gone
through. It wasn't that wide - 4 or 5 feet wide at the top. Anyway we
got the vehicle attached, backed it up and lowered a winch down and
had two railway sleepers across the top for a small ladder to help us
out and also the block for the winch. I put a chest harness on and
they lowered me down. It was 180 feet to where the dogs hit. I was
standing on the dogs. It was really narrow. It was a huge box. The
top was about 5 feet wide, for about 20 feet I suppose, then it just
barrelled out into this huge bottle and then narrow - like a cavern.
It was enormous. No snow bridges; just a clear fall, 180 feet. The
dogs obviously died instantly. They were all folded up underneath me.
The sledge had all been compressed. I sent things up like cameras,
but they were all destroyed. It was awful, but as I say, incredibly
unlucky. If he had crossed it 90 degrees and the back of the sledge
had gone down, he would have carried on no problem at all. But just
hitting it parallel ... I looked at it, the sun angle, there was low
sun. I looked everywhere and there was no indication of it there at
all. It would have been impossible to see."
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/161.

Many thanks to all contributors to this Newsletter.

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13 November 2015
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