Z-fids Newsletter No. 43

August 2018

      Z - F I D S    N E W S L E T T E R   No. 43   31 Aug 2018

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

Halley VIa
Richard Warren (the Halley Station Leader) has kindly contributed the
following report to keep us all up to date with what is currently
going on:

2017-18 Season
In the boreal summer of 2017, the planning season in Cambridge was
quite unique. For the first time in Halley's then 61 year history,
we were planning to deploy a team to the station after an unoccupied
winter, with the aim of wintering again in 2018. Due to continued
glaciological uncertainty, those selected to winter in 2018 were
informed just before the season began that Halley would not be
wintering for 2018, the second consecutive year. This however did not
alter the objectives of the 2017-2018 summer; commission the Modules
after winter, complete the Halley Relocation Project, and commission
a Micro-turbine Generator to provide autonomous power throughout the
winter period. This was alongside the usual works of raise and
realign everything, from the drum dumps and container line to the
Modules themselves. The season was initially hampered by delays in
pax input through both Rothera and Novolazareskaya. The early input
team was effectively a 13 strong field party, working to commission
first the Drewry and Garage, and then the Modules including the work-
intensive Marioff fire suppression system. Once the Modules were
commissioned, the team was supplemented by larger pax inputs through
Novolazareskaya where the science, steel and relocation works seasons
could begin. Despite losing over 600 man days in commissioning phase,
the Modules were declared fit for occupation one day ahead of their
target, a testament to the hard work of the initial pax on site.
The most important task of the season was to complete the three year
Halley Relocation Project; relocating all station infrastructure from
the buildings all the way to the perimeter flags across the ever
propagating Chasm 1 crevasse. This was completed on time to the
delight of all those on station and in Cambridge, celebrating
completion of a three year project that demonstrated Halley VI's
innovative relocatable design. The Micro-turbine Generator (MTG) was
brought on to the Brunt Ice Shelf at First Call of the Ernest
Shackleton, one of two that season. This is half of the Automation
Project, the MTG provides high power to a suite of wintering
instrumentation. The other half, the low powered instrumentation,
is powered by solar and wind power. Despite good efforts from all
involved, the decision was made to not commission the MTG in the
2017-18 season, with more work planned in the boreal summer of 2018
to deliver the commissioned MTG in the 2018-19 season. The main
season works were complemented by one of the largest field flying
campaigns that Halley has undertaken in a long time. Multiple
instrument sites all across Antarctica were serviced by Halley
engineers and fuel was restocked at the Therons and Eagle depot for
future seasons. The season was rounded off by a quick and experienced
raise and realign of all station infrastructure, and a successful
decommission of the Modules, with the last pax on the Brunt
decommissioning the Drewry before all pax were uplifted, leaving
Halley ready to be opened following the winter of 2018.

2018 Boreal Summer & plans for 2018-19 season
Two things have dictated most of the planning in summer 2018 in
Cambridge. The first is that we are not planning to winter in 2019,
which means from the start we have planned a smaller pax input of ~40
BAS pax at peak, and are not aiming to commission the Modules due to
the time it takes and number of trained personnel it takes to do it. 
The second is regarding the main objective of the 2018-19 season; the
successful delivery of the MTG and automated instrumentation data
collection through the winter of 2019. The Halley Automation Project
has a dedicated Project Manager and support team who have been
meticulously planning every aspect of the MTG. They have purchased a 
second MTG unit to commission, run, and learn from in Cambridge,
implementing lessons learnt onto the unit currently at Halley.
In addition to the MTG, automated "plug and play" instrumentation is
being prepared to be shipped South, to re-establish the long running
datasets that Halley is renowned for. Some of these will be housed in
the Halley CASlab (Clean Air Sector lab) which is currently sat on a
sledge to the south of the station. Besides the usual planned works, 
the main objective of the Steel Team these year will be the successful
lift of the CASlab back onto its platform atop supporting legs in the
middle of the Clean Air Sector.

For any further questions on:
- The season in general, please contact Rich Warren (Halley Station Leader): ricwar@bas.ac.uk
- The MTG, please contact Thomas Barningham (Automation Project Manager): simbar@bas.ac.uk


There is a link to the Halley Automation Project on the ZFids 2018+

Sadly, as usual, there are deaths to announce.

Mark Vallance
Mark was a GA at Halley in 1970 and 1971 and was Base Commander in
1971. He passed away peacefully at home on 19th April after a long
battle with Parkinson's. His wife Jan and daughter Jody were with him
at the end. Mark was a very well respected climber and had a
remarkable life after the Antarctic, setting up the company Wild
Country initially to sell "Friends" (camming devices for rock
climbing). His autobiography "Wild Country" is well worth a read. On
the Z-Fids 1971 page is a link to an obituary published by the British
Mountaineering Council. Mark was a former president of the BMC.
A celebration of Mark's life was held in in Sheffield on 21st July.
According to Ian ("Fin") Smith who was there, this was well attended
and there were good eulogies from many friends and colleagues,
presented against a rolling backdrop of Mark's photos.

Mike Bethell
Barry Peters has passed on the news that Mike died on the 21st of
June this year. Like Barry, Mike was an ionosphericist (aka beastie-
man) who wintered in 1961 and 1962.

Philip Brenan
Philip Brenan was a member of the Royal Society IGY expedition and
wintered at Halley Bay in 1957 and 1958 as one of the Radio-astronomy
team. He died in June 2018 after having a fall which led to a fatal 
brain haemorrhage. Only the previous month he had attended the Hurst
Green reunion, held annually for members of IGYE, TAE and early
Z-Fids, and he sent some photos of that, which are on the Z-Fids
1957 page.

Nick Mathys
Nick Mathys died on 2nd August 2018 after a spending his final weeks
in hospital. During the two years he spent in a care home, he managed
to get out and about a bit, and had some visits from old friends, and
he continued to enjoy reading books and following the news.
In accordance with his wishes, there was neither a funeral service nor
any mourners at his cremation. Nick wintered as a GA in 1967 and 1968.
In the 1968-69 summer season he went to the Shackleton Mountains. A
six-man field party consisting of Nick, Peter Clarkson, Mike Skidmore,
Tony True, Harry Wiggans and Ken Blaiklock were flown in by the
Americans. Unfortunately Nick broke his leg soon after arriving in the
field. Rather than ask the Americans to fly him back to Halley, it was
decided to put his leg in plaster in the field, with radio instructions
from Dr Murray Roberts back at Halley, and poor Nick spent the
remaining six weeks of the trip laid up in the tent. You can listen to
Peter Clarkson and Murray Roberts talking about this in their Oral
History interviews on the BAS Club website. There are links to these
from the Z-Fids 1968 page, and a couple of transcribed section are
reproduced below.

Container move
A video of moving the line of containers has been made by
"Halleywood Studios" (Rob Johnson) in 2009. There is a link on the
Z-Fids 2009 page. With speeded up time-lapse pictures, the couple of
dozen containers are pulled out of the snow in under 2 minutes!
There is another video, "Dig for Victory", from the same studio,
about filling the melt tanks.

1973 video
Norman Eddleston has produced a video from film taken on the voyage
out from Halley in 1973, calling at Signy, South Georgia, Stanley,
Argentine Islands, Palmer station, Adelaide, Stonington, Montevideo
and Southampton. See link on Summer 1972-73 at the bottom of the 1973
Z-Fids page.

"Laughing Gas" comedy podcast
This is an interview with two Halley winterers: Jimmy Hendry (plumber,
2013) and Anthony Lister (electrician, 2014). It was produced for
British Gas as a way of engaging with their remotely working heating
engineers (though not as remote as Halley). Jimmy and Anthony talk
about their Antarctic experiences. The interview was recorded in
Sunderland and the two interviewers speak the accent of that region.
They spend the first half of the podcast discussing working in the
Antarctic, which is quite amusing as they clearly don't know much
about the subject. The actual interview is in the second half of the
podcast. There is a link from the Z-Fids 2013 page.

Z-fids website www.zfids.org.uk
As long as Halley remains a summer-only station, there will no longer
be a separate page on the website for each year. Instead I have put up a
2018+ page for News and events from 2018 onwards.

Mike Pinnock
Mike retired from BAS in March this year. Mike first joined BAS in
1976 and wintered at Halley as a ionosphericist in 1977, 1978, and
again in 1981 when he oversaw the installation of the AIS (Advanced
Ionospheric Sounder). On returning to the UK he continued to be
involved in the BAS ionospherics programme during which time Halley
became part of the international SuperDARN radar network, which led to
numerous published scientific papers about the ionosphere. Eventually
he became a member of the BAS Board (Senior management team) and was
responsible for science delivery. In spite of retirement, Mike hasn't
really left BAS. He is now an Emeritus Fellow and is working on the
Discovery 100 science programme at South Georgia. The Discovery
Investigations, using Scott's old ship, took place from 1923 to 1931.
According to Wikipedia, the Discovery Committee which planned the
cruises was formed in 1918, just 100 years ago.

Brian G Jones
Keith Holmes emailed to say that there had been some confusion at BAS
Archives between the two Brian Jones that were at Halley Bay in
the early 1970s, not helped by the fact that both had the middle
initial G.
Jones the Builder was on the summer building team in 1973-74,
finishing off the Halley III base. He is a member of the BAS Club and
in the Z-Fids contact list. He has attended the Halley reunions in
1981, 2001 and 2006 and, with Tony Wincott, organised the 2014 BAS
Club reunion at Plas y Brenin in 2014.
The other Brian Jones was Halley BC in 1974, having previously
wintered at Stonington in 1972 as a GA. That Brian is best remembered
for going missing from base and for surviving for a day and a half (or
two and a half days, depending on who you believe) in a blizzard, dug
in behind an empty oil drum.
Keith wonders what happened to this Jones. Does anyone know where he is?

Grillage Village Reunion
A reunion for Fids who were at Halley II (operational 1967-
1973), otherwise known as Grillage Village, was organised by Roger
Tiffin, Chris Gostick, Bob Wells and Malcolm Guyatt. It was held on
27th June 2018 at Scalby  near Scarborough. 41 Fids with 19 wives or
partners attended. Dave Hoy has written a report, and this, together
with pictures and an attendance list, is on the Z-Fids website (link
from the 1969 page).

British Antarctic Oral History Project
Of the 286 Oral History interviews held in BAS Archives, 214 have now
been transcribed by our team of volunteers.
88 of the interviews have been published on the BAS Club website (link
on the zfids home page) and more are expected to be published later this
year. You don't need to be a BAS Club member to see them. There are
links on the Z-Fids website to the interviews featuring Halley people
(See the General Index under Oral history recordings).

Here are a couple of abstracts from the interviews, which feature Nick
Mathys who died recently (see above). Peter Clarkson and Murray
Roberts are talking about the 1968-69 field trip to the Shackleton

Peter Clarkson (Geologist & BC 1968-69): Broken leg in the field
"Nick Mathys broke his leg and oh we cursed him for it. We had not
got good communications with Halley at the time. Mike Skidmore was
sending out the message to Halley by Morse, that said ‘Nick has
broken leg’ and the tractor parties picked this up and whoever was
doing the Morse there worked out that ‘Nick has broken neck’. They
were about to turn back to come and pick him up. I do not know quite
how it happened but they were dissuaded from doing so, because if the
injury was sufficiently serious, we would have just called up the
Americans, but we didn’t. Ken Blaiklock of longstanding British
Antarctic fame, had come down to restart the survey that he had
started during the Trans Antarctic Expedition, and he said if we
called the Americans they are almost certainly going to say ‘One out,
all out.’ So we put this to Nick and he said ‘Oh, OK.’ Very stoical
actually, Nick Mathys. Anyway we eventually got him back to the depot
on the Recovery Glacier, so-called. We all met up there and then Ken
and Harry Wiggans went off to carry on the survey while the other
four of us - Mike Skidmore, Tony True and myself and of course the
patient Nick - set about fixing his leg. By this time, fortunately,
we had got quite good radio communications with Halley and the doctor
was on the radio at the other end. He said ‘Well, can you see the
break, or can you feel the break?’ ‘No we can actually see it.’ He
had only broken his shin bone. So he said ‘Turn his foot until the
break disappears.’ We turned his foot. ‘Right, now. Does his leg look
in a fairly straight line?’ ‘Yes it looks all right to us at this
end.’ ‘What does it look like to you, Nick?’ and he said ‘Fine, go on,
slap the plaster on.’ So they shot the plaster on and he spent the
rest of that season lying up. We had obviously satisfied ourselves
that he was in no real danger. He had probably got his leg in plaster
for about six weeks, and so it was virtually healed by the time we
got back to Halley. It is fine now; it has been for nearly 40 years."

NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/89.

Murray Roberts (Doctor 1968): Treating a broken leg by radio
"Nick Mathys broke his leg while he was skiing in the Shackleton
Mountains, 400 miles from base. We were faced, or I was faced with a
problem. We ascertained by radio that he had probably broken his
leg. Fortunately the sledging stores had got plaster of Paris
bandages and we had practised putting them on during the winter, so
he had the wherewithal to plaster his leg up which he did. But the
question then was: ‘What do we do with him?’ and I consulted ...
Of course in those days communication was pretty terrible but we sent
signals back to London, looking for guidance really about whether
to get him out. Somebody had a reply from Sir Vivian Fuchs saying
‘Well, if you, as a medical officer, think he should be extracted,
we will do it. But of course it will ruin the Americans’ summer
programme; it will ruin our own. We will have to bring everybody out
of the mountains. It will finish our field season. But you are the
guy on the ground and if you think it is necessary, we will do it.’
which I did not think was very helpful. But since Nick seemed fairly
happy, and his foot was pointing the right way and it did not hurt,
we left him there and he eventually got back five weeks later,
I think. In the mean time he kept telling us by radio, our evening
radio schedules, that he was terribly worried that his plaster of
Paris was getting soft and breaking down, and that the plaster cast
was coming adrift. But when he got back, it was actually about an
inch thick and it nearly killed me trying to get it off. It was
incredibly tough, but he did fine. When I got the plaster off, I was
able to do an assessment. I X-rayed it and then put him back in
plaster again."

NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/75.

Many thanks to all contributors to this Newsletter.

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26 Oct 2019
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