Z-fids Newsletter No. 39

August 2016

      Z - F I D S    N E W S L E T T E R   No. 39   20 Aug 2016

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

The Halley event of the decade is getting closer. It should be a
great opportunity for a reunion with fellow Z-Fids and to celebrate
the past and present of the best base in the Antarctic. After 60
years it holds the record for the Antarctic station with the longest
continuous British occupation (Base-F, Argentine Islands, and Base-H,
Signy, were established earlier but F is no longer British and H is
now summer only). Details are: 

When:  7th - 9th of October 2016 
Where: The Park Inn Hotel, Northampton, UK
Cost : £78 per person (not including accommodation)
Contact email: Z60Celebration2016@gmail.com
Website: https://sites.google.com/site/z60celebration/

Look on the Z-60 website (link on the www.zfids.org.uk home page)
for details about the event and to reserve your place. When last
updated (7th July) there were 130 attendees listed, together
with 65 guests. The 60th has already been celebrated at Halley. See
the picture on the 2016 zfids page.

Tony Wincott has recently issued an August update which may be found
on the website.

News from Halley
Jess Walkup, the current winter station leader (aka base commander)
has send the following update:
"After 103 days of darkness the sun rose on August the 11th. At least
we had to believe it did since the sky was fully covered in cloud so
no golden orb showed up for the celebration. In fact 7 days later and
none of the team have actually seen the sun yet, but everyone is
enjoying the increased amounts of daylight. There is more activity
outside now that there is light enough to work and then temperatures
have not been too low. It is going to be a busy summer season,
starting early, what with the planned station move so the more jobs
that can be ticked off in this latter half of winter the better.
The highlight of August, and perhaps of the winter was the Halley
team's participation in the Antarctic 48 Hour Film Festival. From
the Friday evening on the first weekend of August until the Sunday
evening the station became a hive of activity. Script writing, costume
and set design, acting, and then of course lots and lots of editing.
The whole team took part and were pretty happy with the resulting
film "Halley Prison", a kind of spoof of every prison film ever made.
It can be seen online (https://vimeo.com/177972093)." [This video is
worth watching - Ed.]

Meanwhile at Cambridge they are preparing for the move of the station
to its new site. The first teams will arrive in November. The
scientific experiments will be put in temporary accommodation at
the present site until the modules are recommissioned at the new site.


Sadly, as usual, there are deaths to announce.

Andy Tait
Andy Tait wintered at Halley IV as a meteorologist in 1989 and 1990.
After his return from Antarctica he continued to work for BAS where
he was responsible for the design, build and testing of scientific
equipment for use on the ships, aircraft, in the field and on the
Antarctic and Arctic Bases. He died on the 30th May after a brief
struggle with cancer.

Alan Smith (Big Al)
Alan was always known as Big Al. He was big and he was strong. There are
stories of him carrying concrete beams under each arm when just
one required two Fids of average strength to lift. He was known to
many Fids from the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties and Nineties. He
joined BAS in 1966 and  wintered at Halley Bay in 1967 where he was a
member of the largest ever wintering team of 38. He worked with others
on constructing Halley II ('Grillage Village'). After returning to the
UK he spent several austral summers working on other Antarctic stations,
and also had a spell at the Royal Society research station on Aldabra
in the Indian Ocean. He then joined BAS Logistics Section and eventually
became Head of Building Services, in which role he was responsible for
much of the building design and construction on the Antarctic bases.
He wrote a fascinating and authoritative 100-page report "A Brief
History of Antarctic Research Stations on the Brunt Ice Shelf". This
was available on CD at Z-50 and gives a wealth of information
(drawings, specifications, photographs) of Halley I to Halley V. For
more details follow the link on the zfids home page. He retired to
Masham in North Yorkshire in 1995. In 2009 he recorded an interview
for the British Antarctic Oral History Project, and this can be
downloaded from the BAS Club website. Alan died on the 4th of June.
His funeral in Yorkshire was attended by a good number of Fids who
knew him.

Ken Powell
Ken was a member of the very first party to winter at Halley Bay,
the Royal Society IGY Expedition Advance Party in 1956. Their job was
to build the hut ready for the Main Party the following year. Ken was
the diesel mechanic. He was one of the three men (George Hemmen and
David Dalgliesh were the others) who decided the exact spot to build
the hut on the Brunt Ice Shelf. Ken had previously served with FIDS as
diesel mechanic at Hope Bay (Base D) in 1953 and 1954, so he was
something of an old Antarctic hand by the time he went on the Royal
Society expedition. He later worked as a surveyor in Iraq and for
Lincolnshire River Authority. His oral history interview is also
available on the BAS Club website. Ken died in June aged 88.

Z-fids website www.zfids.org.uk
There have been few changes to the website since the last Newsletter.
A virtual tour of Halley VI, produced by Mike Krzysztofowicz (the
current wintering Data Manager) has been added. This is definitely
worth a look if you are interested in what the interior of Halley VI
looks like. Also a report of the 50th anniversary reunion of the
1966 Z-Fids (see below) has been added, and pictures of the current
wintering team by Stuart Holroyd. New contributions are always welcome.

Z66 reunion
Geoff Lovegrove writes:
"Seventeen from the 1966 year at Halley Bay (Halley I) and many
spouses gathered at the Albright Hussey Manor House Hotel near
Shrewsbury from 20 to 22 June for their 5-yearly Z66 reunion and this
year, their 50th anniversary. As well as the seventeen there was a
small number of 1965 and 1967 Halley Bay Fids and three of the 2011
(Halley V) winterers who we had "met" by Skype at our last reunion.
The days were spent socialising, either walking in the surrounding
countryside or over bevvies at the hotel. Tales were re-told in the
evenings with slides and films of the era including a particularly
good collection of sounds, slides and film on DVD compiled for the
event by Col Wornham. Two highlights were a Skype session with the
Halley VI winterers and of course Midwinter Dinner with speeches by
Doug Beebe, Andy Williams and "Mac" McKerrow. The photos tell it all,
courtesy of Dave Brook (Z66 reunion) and Michal Krzysztofowicz
(Halley VI Skype session)."
The photos may be seen on the zfids website.

Three recently published books may be of interest:

Wild Country
Mark Vallance wintered at Halley Bay in 1970 as a GA and in 1971 as
base commander. He was and is a very well known climber and mountaineer
and was responsible for introducing "Friends" (camming devices used in
rock climbing) to the UK. He founded the company Wild Country,
initially to market the Friends. He later became a senior figure in
the British Mountaineering Council. He was diagnosed with Parkinsons a
few years ago but was still climbing until quite recently! He has now
written his Autobiography: Wild Country (Vertebrate Publishing;
ISBN: 978-1-910240-81-6), which is subtitled 'The Man who made
Friends' and was published in June. He devotes one of the chapters to
his time at Halley Bay which will be of interest to Z-Fids.

Postcards from the Past
This is another book by a former Halley Bay base commander, Charles
(Allen) Clayton, also known as 'Flowerpot', who wintered as a surveyor
in 1969 and BC in 1970. The section 'Troglodytes of the Caird Coast',
based on the Halley Bay Base Newsletters and weekly magazines for 1969
and 1970, with a variety of photographs and illustrations, may be of
interest to some Z-Fids readers. Sample pages can be seen on Google
Books and the book itself is available direct from the distributor
or on Amazon. The book was self-published in June 2016 (ISBN 978-1-

Polar Mariner
Yet another book which may be of interest is this one by Captain Tom
Woodfield, who was an officer on the FIDS/ BAS ships from 1955 to
1974. Tom was Master of the RRS Bransfield when she made her maiden
voyage to Halley Bay in 1971. On Tom's last voyage he was accompanied
by his wife Ella who, famously, was the first woman to visit Halley
Bay. Whittles Publishing ISBN 978-1849951661.

Dog team photos
Hwfa Jones is looking for pictures, information and memorabilia on
the dog teams which were run from Halley Bay, so if you can help,
please contact Hwfa (Hwfa.jones@googlemail.com), More details were
given in the last Z-Fids Newsletter (No. 38).

British Antarctic Oral History Project
Of the 284 Oral History interviews held in BAS Archives, 163 have now
been transcribed by our team of volunteers. If you are interested in
joining us, or would like to find out what is involved, please
contact me: andy@zfids.org.uk
51 of the interviews have been published on the BAS Club website (link
on the zfids home page). You don't need to be a BAS Club member to
see them. Here are a couple of abstracts from interviews which have
not yet been published:

Graham Wright ('Genghis') (GA, 1969-1970): Looking after the dogs and
digging the dog tunnel
"It is graft then, cutting the seal meat at Halley Bay, because it is
frozen solid. There were, I think, 40-odd dogs there. Once the seals
were got ashore, they were all cut up with chain saws. Harry, the
previous year’s doggyman, had to get you into the routine of going
out every day to see to the dogs, making sure their welfare was
looked after properly. But we decided then it got too cold at Halley
Bay in the winter, and we decided then to dig the dog tunnel. So we
set about it with wood saws and it worked a treat. We dug this
enormous tunnel about 200 ft long, about 200 or 300 yards away from
base, with an A-frame over it, with a cable and a hook where you
could lower the dogs down about 20 foot, down the vertical shaft.
Then the tunnel went off the shaft with kennels off the tunnel, and
at one end of the tunnel we dug out a huge cavern where all the cut
seal meat was stored for the winter. So before winter we put all the
dogs down there. It worked OK but unfortunately two or three of the
dogs got their tails ripped off because they could just reach another
dog, and they would get hold of their tail and just rip their
backsides out, which was a bit of a nasty occasion. But the doctor
there, Denis Wilkins, was good. He was a surgeon; he patched them up.
We managed to deal with all the dogs at the end of the day."
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/98.

David Petrie (Beastieman, 1963, 1964): The Halley pong
"When you got there you saw this cluster of masts and poles and odds
and ends lying on the surface, and then you realised that you had to
go down this ladder to get into this troglodyte existence where you
were down in these passages. It was the smell that was the real
oddity, if you like, when you got down the shaft, because there was
a mixture of smells which were things like bits of sealmeat, seal
blubber, doggy smell (because they had had some dogs in one of the
tunnels for a bit) - a foody, smoky, unwashed body sort of smell.
It was like nothing else I had smelled before."
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/125.

Many thanks to all contributors to this Newsletter.

Registrations and email updates
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3 Feb 2017
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