Z-fids Newsletter No. 40

January 2017

      Z - F I D S    N E W S L E T T E R   No. 40   26 Jan 2017

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

News from Halley
As you will have heard, BAS has decided to close the station over this
coming winter. I recently sent out a link to the relevant BAS Press
Release dated 16 January 2017. This is a shock as it is the first break
in 61 years of continuous occupation and is a response to the
lengthening "Hallowe'en Crack", discovered last October, which has
opened up between the Halley site and the coast. It must be very
disappointing for the 16 people who were expecting to winter in 2017,
and the impact on the science has not yet been made public. Still of
course the safety of the Antarctic staff must have the highest priority.

Prior to this announcement, the move of the Halley VI modules to the new
site 23 km to the east to a site on the safe side of Chasm 1, had been
going well, with most of the blue modules plus the bridge plus the Big Red
module had been moved, together with the Drewry summer accommodation
building. Three tractors were used to tow the Big Red: two Caterpillar D6
bulldozers and a Pisten Bully. The winter science camp remained at the
old site.

You can keep up to date with the latest developments by looking at the
various blogs and tweets from people who are there. Links to these are
listed on the Z-Fids website. If anyone knows of one that I have omitted,
please let me know.

Sadly, as usual, there are deaths to announce, and this time there seem
to be more than usual.

Ben Hodges
Ben died on 18 Jan 2017, aged 80. Ben was well known to many Fids. He
was a steeplejack at the time he joined FIDS and went to Deception
Island in 1961 as a steel erector where his main job was to build the
hangar for the aircraft which at that time were based at Base B
(Deception Is.). The hangar was still largely intact when I visited
the site 5 years ago, in spite of the volcanic eruptions which have
happened since. Ben then wintered as a GA at Stonington in 1962 and
1963 where he did a lot of dog sledging. Many years later, in the
early 1990s, he was taken on again by BAS as a steel erector, to help
build Halley V during several summer seasons. Ben's Oral History
interview is available on the BAS Club website. There was an extract
from this in Z-Fids Newsletter No. 26, about a party in the K16 Sno-cat,
and another in Z-Fids Newsletter No. 36 about rescuing a complete dog
team from a crevasse above Sodabread Slope on sledging trip from
Stonington. Back numbers of the Z-Fids Newsletter are available on
the Z-Fids website.

William "Bill" Izatt
Bill passed away peacefully at home in Troon on 20th August 2016 after a
very long illness. Bill wintered at Halley Bay in 1965 and 1966 as a
geophysicist. He attended the reunion of the 1966 wintering party held
in 2001 and there is a photo on the website. Bill's widow Julia has
asked me to add that "he had been ill for 11 years with pulmonary
fibrosis and been on continuous oxygen for last year. Although unable
to get out and attend reunions he still was extremely interested in
what was going on in the Antarctic and looked forward to receiving
the BAS Club magazine and the ZFids newsletter and watched/ read 
anything relating to the base with great interest. Emily and I were
also very touched that four Fids travelled all the way to Troon to
attend his funeral on 30th Aug 2016."

Joe MacDowall
Joe MacDowall died on 12 September 2016, not long after his 90th
birthday. Joe is survived by his widow, Oonagh, and his son, Simon.
Joe was a member of the Royal Society IGY expedition which spent the
winters of 1957 and 1958 at the base which had been set up the
previous year by the Advance Party. Then it was called the Royal
Society Base, but was renamed Halley Bay and taken over by FIDS in 1959.
Simon writes "My father Joe MacDowall was on the original 1956-9
expedition and led it from 1958. He was at home with myself and his
wife Oonagh and he died peacefully. He was hoping to make the 60th
anniversary but unfortunately fell short. I feel myself part of it as
I was only 3 months old when he sailed on the Magga Dan and there is
a newspaper photo of him holding his hand out to say goodbye to me as
he boarded. Dad wrote a book "On Floating Ice" about that first
expedition and he left behind several copies. I also have lots of
photos and newspaper clippings from the time."

Charles Le Feuvre
Charles died on 26 September 2016. He was Radio Operator with the
first wintering party in 1956, the Royal Society IGY Expedition
Advance Party. They built the original hut, which was used by the
Main Party the following year for the International Geophysical
Year. He was the last surviving member of that team. Charles
subsequently spent three more winters in Antarctica with FIDS -
at Signy in 1959, Horseshoe Island in 1960 and Hope Bay 1963.

Paul Jones
Paul died on 29th October 2016. Five Fids attended his funeral in
Edinburgh. He was a geophysicist who wintered at Halley Bay in 1971
and 1972. After returning from Antarctica he worked in Joe Farman's
group for a short time before leaving to go into the oil industry.
He was 69 and leaves a widow Christine. We were able to see him for
the last time when, although wheelchair-bound, he managed to get to
Z60 in Northampton shortly before he died.

Derek Gipps
Derek died October / November 2016. Derek was Senior Logistics Officer
at HQ for many years. Although he never wintered in Antarctica, he made
many summer visits to the bases. I have noted that he visited Halley Bay
in the 1971-72 and 1972-73 seasons. If anyone knows which other summer
seasons he was there, please let me know. Derek worked for FIDS/BAS
1958-1974. Previously he worked for the Crown Agents and was involved
with George Hemmen in the logistics for the Royal Society IGY
Expedition which set up Halley Bay in 1956. After leaving BAS, Derek
moved to Swindon to work at NERC Headquarters. The Gipps Ice Rise in
Antarctica is named after him.

Stan Evans
Dr Stan Evans passed away on 10th September 2016. Stan was one of the last
two surviving members of the first wintering party at Halley Bay in 1956
by the Royal Society IGY Expedition Advance Party. He was responsible for
starting the Physics programme there and has written about this in a
report which is on the Z-Fids website (link from the 1956 page). The
same page has a link to the transcript of an interview for the British
Library Oral History of British Science which he gave in 2011. With
Gordon Robin, Stan Evans developed the world's first purpose-built
airborne radio echo sounding system for glaciological research in the
1960s at the Scott Polar Research Institute, and which has been used to
great effect in Antarctic since then. This was what Jeremy Bailey was
travelling to the Tottan Mountains in 1965 to use, when he died in the
tragic crevasse accident. A News item on the British Antarctic Monument
Trust website (link from the Z-Fids home page) dated 7 June 2009 deals
with this subject. Stan was a Fellow of Jesus College Cambridge from
1976-1996 and an Emeritus Fellow from 1996.

Z-60: Halley Bay, Diamond Jubilee Bash
This was held in Northampton in October 2016 and was a great success.
Around 240 people attended. There were some interesting talks including
a presentation by John Eager about the move of the modular Halley VI to
a new site, being carried out over three summer seasons. The guest after
dinner speaker was Peter Gibbs who wintered in 1980 and 1981 (BC in
1981) and made a well publicised return visit for the BBC in January

Z-fids website www.zfids.org.uk
A page has been added for 2017. Usually I put up a page for a new year
after the end of the summer season, when the winter team for that year
has had time to settle in, and a wintering party photo is available.
Because of the closure of the station over winter 2017, I decided to do
this earlier.
Roger Tiffin has contributed a rather fine photo of Graham ('Genghis')
Wright using a chain saw to cut up frozen seal for the dogs.
I have uploaded the plots showing the movements of the six Halley bases
as they were carried westward by the Brunt Ice Shelf. I showed versions
of these at Z60. This was work done with Peter Kirsch of BAS.
Allen Clayton has contributed some photos from his time at Halley,
mainly of dogs and some rather inebriated looking Fids.
A photo of the Halley II lounge from Bob Wells showing the JATO bottle
"ashtray" near the dart board.
All these may be found from the "Latest Additions and Updates" page
which is linked from the home page.

New books
"Many are Cold but Few are Frozen" subtitled "Plain tales from
Antarctica", this has been written by Graham Chambers about his time at
Halley III. He wintered as a Meteorologist in 1974 and 1975. The book
was reviewed by John Fry in the BAS Club Magazine No 76 (Dec 2016)
and is available from Amazon. I have put a link on the 1974 Z-Fids
page. Graham is publishing it himself and any profits are going to the
BAS Club Benevolent Fund. A Google search suggests that the title comes
from a joke originating in Minnesota in the USA.
Z-Fids may also be interested in "Polar Mariner" by Tom Woodfield.
Captain Woodfield was a Ships Officer with FIDS/BAS for many years and
was very experienced in Antarctic waters. He was Master of RRS
Bransfield when she made her first visit to Halley Bay in 1971. The
book was reviewed by Keith Holmes in BAS Club Magazine No 76 and is
also available from Amazon.

Premiere of "South 2015: a voyage to remember."
A film about the work of the British Antarctic Monument Trust to
commemorate those Britons who lost their lives in British Antarctic
Territory is to be premiered at the Royal Geographical Society on
Wednesday 14 June 2017 at 19.00. Bar open from 18.00. Trust
Ambassador, the polar explorer Felicity Aston MBE, will introduce
this spectacular and moving film, entitled 'South 2015: an Antarctic
Voyage to Remember'. Tickets are £14 with all surplus going to the
Trust. They can be bought over the web at Eventbrite

Modern Antarctic Stations
Mike Pinnock has written in to draw attention to a BBC Magazine article
showing that Halley is not the only futuristic looking station on the
continent. They are springing up all over the place. There is a link to
the article on the Z-Fids 2017 page. The days of simple "garden shed"
type wooden huts are long gone!

British Antarctic Oral History Project
Of the 286 Oral History interviews held in BAS Archives, 171 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:

Malky Macrae (Tractor Mechanic, 1968): Everything Gets Drifted Over
"Another problem was, everything on the surface drifted over, fuel,
food etc. But the dumps were marked and if you needed the stuff, you
got a sledge, towed it out and two or three would dig it out or use
a bulldozer to clear it. So I wouldn’t say it was a major problem.
The major problem was that the ice pressure underneath; the snow was
compact, turning it into ice. You got heat spots where warm air escaped
into the chambers. The chambers then formed round the buildings and
then you got icicles starting to form and then the icicles started
to press through the roof. There was another, old, base, Halley-I
which you used to go down. You’ll have heard of it as well. Down the
ladders into Halley-I and it was like Santa’s grotto but 60 feet
underground. There was icicles through the roofs, pianos, ice grottos
full of crystals. Quite scenic actually. As a matter of fact I just
wish I had probably, at that particular time, taken more photographs,
but all that’s happened over the photographs: they lie in boxes at
home. Every other Fid will have told you the same thing. It’s all
on record but you don’t know where it is now."
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/200.

Steve Norris (Electrician, 1975): Fire in the Genny Shed
"We had a fire at Halley, that could have been a lot worse than what it
was. It was a Saturday night. I can’t remember what month but I knew it
was a Saturday night because everyone was dressed up and seated for
their meal. I was just getting up from the dinner table to go to the loo,
and everyone else was sitting around. I walked out to the corridor and I
could smell burning somewhere; I didn’t know where at the time. So I went
down the corridor, past the labs and turned left down through the
workshops towards the generator shed, and there was also one of the other
Fids with me. I can’t remember who it was now but we were both walking
down towards the generating shed. When I opened up the door of the
generating shed, I saw that this diesel pipe off one of the generators,
off one of the injectors, had broken and was spraying fuel onto the
generator and was on fire, and was alight and it was creating a lot of
smoke. I had to assess the situation and I thought to myself ‘Right,
I can see what’s going on. If I shut that generator down now, then it
would plunge everyone into darkness and create a lot more panic.’
I could see where the fire was. I had a fire extinguisher with me but
I thought ‘The best thing now is to get Alec Hurley down, start up the
new generator, and then change over and then shut down the generator
that was generating all these flames and smoke.’ So I said to the guy
with me ‘Right. Calmly’ I said ‘go back to the dining room. Tell Alec
Hurley that there’s a problem and there’s a diesel fire in the generating
shed and get him to come down. And that’s what we do.’ So he said
‘Right.’ I found out later that he ran down and back to the dining room,
opened the door to the dining room and shouted ‘Fire! Fire! Fire!’
which wasn’t what I wanted. And again everything went into panic mode
after that, but Alec came down and we changed over generators and
shut everything down. But if it wasn’t noticed at the time, it could
have been a very nasty situation, because in those days you didn’t have
smoke detectors or fire alarms through the base. You were very much
left to your own devices and you depended on the night met man to do
his rounds, to check everything."
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/133.

Many thanks to all contributors to this Newsletter.

Registrations and email updates
As usual this newsletter is being sent out by email only, to 450
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). 428 people have now registered on Z-fids. If you have, your
name will be shown as a link on the appropriate year page(s). If you
wish to be removed from the mailing list, again let me know by email.


12 Jul 2017
Z-fids home page