Z-fids Newsletter No. 51

March 2022

      Z - F I D S    N E W S L E T T E R   No. 51   23 Mar 2022

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

News about Halley 
David Hunt, Halley Ops Manager & Station Leader, has kindly sent in
the following update for March 2022:

"All personnel have now left Halley for the 21/22 season leaving the
Micro-Turbine spinning away and the automated science instruments
merrily collecting their long term data. The season was hugely
successful but also quite tough mainly due to the quantity of work
and the unusually extreme weather conditions experienced. We had
prolonged periods of strong winds (70 mph at times) and limited
visibility throughout the season. Whilst I have experienced these
conditions during winter and the occasional day or so during summer
the weather this season seriously hampered our work throughout.
I guess the new folk definitely experienced the real Antarctica and
went home with a few stories to tell. Despite all this we had a great
season and the crew certainly stepped up to the plate to complete an
amazing amount of work.

We pretty much achieved all of our season objectives below: 
* Raise all infrastructure - Nothing was raised during 20-21 season
* Restart, service and refuel the micro-turbine - This failed in
  August, but we are confident we know what the problem was and can
  protect against this in the future. 
* Raise and re-align VSAT Dome.
* Service Automated Science instruments
* Raise and service LOH network (this is the network of automated GPS
  sites that monitor the stability of the Ice shelf and allow us
  continuous monitoring to ensure personnel safety)
* Receive airdrop of approx. 600 drums of Avtur (only managed 400 due
  to weather conditions)
* Ongoing investigation of possible relief sites for the 22-23 season
  (we managed to find a vehicle route across Halloween Crack which
  will open up possible relief sites to the North of the station)

The micro-turbine has been left fully serviced and upgrades carried
out that should prevent the shutdown that happened last winter from

Chasm 1
The West Brunt is again amazingly still there. As I reported in the
last brief the remaining distance of intact ice between the tip of
Chasm 1 and cracks propagating from The Rumples is still
approximately 2.0 km and this hasn't really changed significantly
over this season. There is also little change in the propagation of
Halloween Crack. As I write this we are experiencing increased
activity around Chasm 1 and the intact ice is now down to 400m.
We think that the calving is now imminent (I've heard that somewhere
before !!) so fingers crossed.

Overall we had a great season made possible by a really good team of
hard-working dedicated folk.

Now the planning starts for next season and beyond"

David included a couple of pictures in his report which may be seen here:


There is only one death to report in this Newsletter.

David Easty
David was the wintering doctor at Halley Bay in 1961. He died on 11th
January 2022 aged 89. After the Antarctic, David went on to become a
distinguished ophthalmologist. He was a corneal transplant pioneer and
set up the first UK-wide eye bank. Mike "Muff" Warden (GA and
"doggyman", 1970/ 71, has written about a link between 1961 and 1971
- the dog Booboo. These comments may be found on the 1971 Z-Fids page.

Antarctic Engagement
This book is a collection of letters between Allen Clayton and his
fiancée Jane while he was at Halley in 1969 (Surveyor) and 1970 (Base
Commander). It is self-published by Allen and Jane. More details are
on the ZFids website (link from 1969 page).

AIS Antenna appeal
Last month a request was made to Z-Fids on behalf of John Dudeney who
was looking for a photo of the AIS (Advanced Ionospheric Sounder for
the uninitiated) antenna at Halley to illustrate his autobiography.
He was very pleased with the response, and chose a picture taken by
Ian Jones. This may be viewed on the Z-Fids website 1982 page.

Clive Palfrey (chef in 1973) writes as follows "It's fifty years since
I went south so maybe the memory is playing tricks on me but I seem
to recall that the large open plains of ice and snow were referred to
by some as Bondu. I mentioned this to a South African who said that
there must have been a South African down there who transferred the
name as it is a term commonly used in South Africa as a description of
plains, open farm land and a particular tribe. So do you know who and
when the term of Bondu was adopted in Antarctica?"
It is more usually spelled bundu in the South African context. Looking 
at the various glossaries (link from the ZFids home page) shows that
the term appears in only one: that compiled by Ken Lax for 1973-78.
Further analysis suggests its use was quite limited - only at Halley
Bay and only for the years from about 1969 to about 1987. Does anyone
know if its use was started by a Halley Fid with a South African
connection? When I wintered in 1971-72, the former glaciology office
had been reincarnated as the Bondu Bar when the glaciology programme

Camp cooking (and meat bar offer)
Peter Hall (physicist 1980 and 1981) says "I remember Peter Gibbs'
attempt at a gourmet meal on the Antarctic plateau consisting of
dried meat bar, dried onion, a stock cube and dried mashed potato.
Thank goodness he went into meteorology rather than gastronomy."
Also (Peter Hall not Gibbs) found a meat bar and is offering it free
to anyone who wants it. For details, see link on the 1980 ZFids page.

Automation at Halley
The scientific instrumentation at Halley is becoming more and more
automated, to allow scientific measurements to continue throughout the
winter when the base is uninhabited. This was the subject of a BAS
News story dated 4th March 2022. You can find a link to this on the
2018+ ZFids web page. The key to the operation is the micro-turbine
system which supplies power to the science instruments through the
winter. The automated fuelling system has been upgraded to reduce
the chance of the micro-turbine stopping, which happened in August
2021, leading to a loss of some data until November when the
automation team returned to the site.

ZFids website www.zfids.org.uk
Mike Taylor (Electrician 1970 & 71) has contributed some photos of
Midwinter 1971 including the Midwinter football game played at -30C.
There is a link on the 1971 ZFids page.

John Davies provided an Update in November 2021 with pictures showing
the drifted up modules. Link from the 2018+ page.

Jimmy Hendry (plumber 2013) received his Master Plumber award from the
Lord Mayor of London. Pictures: link from the 2013 ZFids page.

More contributions to the website are welcome at any time.

British Antarctic Oral History Project
Of the 286 Oral History interviews held in BAS Archives, 274 have now
been transcribed by our team of volunteers. 231 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. 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 extracts from interviews that have not yet been

Dave Fletcher (GA, 1972): First Impressions of Halley Bay
"Overwhelmed, I suppose. The flatness, actually. Just incredible, you
know? Obviously I had read about it. People had told me about it, but
it is overwhelming really. You land on this ice shelf and then base
then, it wasn’t that far away, about 4 miles from the landing site.
But it is just this vastness, the all-sky and flat ice. That was what
really got me going, was just the vastness of the place and I remember
the second day I had gone up to base with the dogs and there was an
incredible sort of mirage and an amazing inversion of the icebergs.
They were all floating up in the sky. You just wonder how you had
come to it - it is really quite incredible. Also, again, I was so
impressed with the professionalism of everybody because everybody
seemed to know what they were doing and then the whole thing went -
Nobody actually gave you instructions. Well they did of course:
‘Can you help there?’ or ‘Can you help -?’ but the whole thing worked.
That was one of the things that always has amazed me with Fids: it
just works. You just get a bunch of lads together and it just happens.
No big discussion usually. You have a big chat to start with but once
people decide ‘This is the way we are going to do it.’ This is the
way it is done."
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/161.

Denis Wilkins (Doctor, 1969): The Appendicectomy
"Johnny hadn’t appeared and was feeling a bit crook. I was called to
his cabin. Went along, [he'd] got bellyache. You felt with sinking
heart, tenderness over the right - ‘Oh, this can’t be happening! This
can’t be true.’ But it was tender there. You waited 24 hours and it
got worse, and there you were, stuck. It was during the winter and you
thought ‘What would I do if I was in civilisation? Would I just give
him antibiotics and hope for the best? Hope it would settle?’ I knew
enough to know that if appendicitis is neglected, 60% of them will
get better, 60-65%. But a lot of them won’t and some of those will
die. This is why appendicectomy came about. So it was a bit of a facer
really, but it wasn’t getting better so I thought ‘Gotta do it!’
I would have done anything not to have had to do it really. But Johnny
was very brave, I have to say. He just said ‘Right doc, get on with
it.’ I trained up a medical assistant, Bob, and he was a physicist. 
So the two of us were the operating team, if you like. If I recall,
it was Pete Clarkson who gave the anaesthetic. We had this machine
called the PJ Nunn Anaesthetic Machine which was a very primitive but
effective piece of kit and we set it up in the doctor’s surgery and
just got on with it. It wasn’t a very elegant piece of surgery in the
sense that the anaesthetic: he was either climbing off the table or
was lying there lifeless and not breathing. But he was a strong lad
and he came through it in the end all right. Then afterwards it all
went OK. It was appendicitis and afterwards he just - We watched him
with bated breath. ‘Is he going to be all right?’ But he was, a strong
Yorkshire lad. No problems. He came through it."
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/167.

Many thanks to all contributors to this Newsletter.

Back numbers
All issues of this Z-Fids Newsletter, from No. 1 in 2004 (except for the
most recent issue) are available from the website home page.

The British Antarctic Survey Club
The Club is now sponsoring the Z-Fids website and if you are not already
a member, I would urge you to consider joining. There is a membership
application form accessible from the home page of the Club's website:

Registrations and email updates
As usual this newsletter is being sent out by email only, to 432
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). 437 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, let me know by email.


31 Oct 2022
Z-fids home page