Z-fids Newsletter No. 53

March 2023

      Z - F I D S    N E W S L E T T E R   No. 53   22 Mar 2023

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

News about Halley
Thomas Barninghamm (aka Barney), who led the 2022-23 summer team at
Halley, has kindly sent me a report, with pictures, which may be
found on the 2018+ page of the zfids website. Here are a few
"It’s been another great season down at Halley – and quite a historic
one for a few reasons! We had 21 staff on station this year for the
most part. Largely composed of experienced returners with a few
additional faces (including a reunion of sorts for the Halley 1997
wintering team). It was one of the strongest teams I’ve witnessed at
Halley, in terms of technical competence, team cohesion and general
morale. We worked hard but had a right laugh too.
The most significant event to have occurred was the calving of the
West Brunt ice shelf, all 1550 km^2of it – finally! It was a privilege
to be there when it happened and see the data first hand that
indicated the calving had begun, 48 hours before any satellite
imagery picked it up. We didn’t “hear” it go, as the rumour mill over
at Rothera had thought... But we did manage a trip out to the new 
shelf edge once we deemed it safe to have a look for potential shelf
relief sites, and it does look promising.
Plans are now afoot for a ship to visit Halley around Christmas 2023
in what will be our first relief in 6 years. There’s a lot to plan
and so it will be a busy Cambridge summer period!"

Sadly There are deaths to report.

John Bawden
John Bawden died peacefully at home (Bury St Edmunds) on the morning
of 26th October 2022, aged 91. John joined BAS in 1971 and in 1978
succeeded Bill Sloman as Institute Secretary (Head of Administration),
a post which he held until retirement in 1991. He was chairman of the
BAS Club for many years. A transcript of his retirement presentation
may be found on the British Antarctic Oral History Project.
In Antarctica, the Bawden Ice Rise, near Cape Alexander, is named
after him.

Jim Shirtcliffe
Jim died on Christmas Eve, 2022, aged 91. He served 6 winters with
BAS, firstly at Deception in 1954 as a met man. Soon after arrival,
he had the sad task of helping to bury Arthur Farrant, who shot himself
just before the ship arrived. He subsequently wintered at Signy in
1955 (this time as a builder) and Argentine Islands in 1961. In 1962
he was base leader at Fossil Bluff, and then GA and builder at
Adelaide in 1963. He then spent a couple of years in the Falkland
Islands before his final Antarctic winter at Halley Bay in 1967.
There he worked on the construction of Halley II ("Grillage Village").
Jim was the companion of Dr John Brotherhood when they fell over an
ice cliff. Brotherhood broke his back and was evacuated by the
Americans. Jim returned to Halley for the 1972-73 summer season at
Halley, where he was in charge of the construction of Halley III.
Jim's interview for the British Antarctic Oral History Project
has been published and make be accessed on the BAS Club website.

Chris Sykes
Chris died of a heart attack on 18 December 2022, aged 82. He wintered
at Halley as tractor mechanic in 1967 and base commander in 1968.

Malcolm 'Bloke' Guyatt
Malcolm died from sepsis in October 2022 after 10 days in West
Cumberland Hospital. He had left his body to the Liverpool Hospital
but they could not accept it because of the cause of death. Malcolm
wintered in at Halley Bay in 1969 and 1970 as a GA and spent the
1969-70 summer season working in the Shackleton Mountains. The Guyatt
Ridge there is named after him. He was one of the organisers of the
Halley 2 (Grillage Village) reunions.

The next two items are not obituaries, fortunately.

Alan 'Dad' Etchells
Dad is in a nursing home in Chirk. He is in good spirits and people
are going to visit him. Visitors in February reported that he is still
in fine health and enjoyed a ‘great big’ slice of chocolate coffee
cream sponge cake. His hearing is still a problem but was able to
communicate OK.

Kenn Back
Kenn is in the Winston Churchill care home in Montevideo and is being
well looked after there. In October 2022 he was visited by the captain
and officers of HMS Protector. There is a report and pictures on the
BAS Club website. Bob Headland visited in February 2023 and said "His
accommodation has access to a common room for dining and a large
veranda overlooking a park area with lawns and flowering trees
(despite the drought) but a lot of traffic. Presently there are five
residents. A substantial number of his books are with him so he able
to spend much time reading." Bob's full report in on the BAS Club

Midwinter magazines
Keith Gainey has provided a number of midwinter and other magazines
produced on base and these will be gradually uploaded to the Zfids
website. At present the Midwinter and Christmas editions of the 1961
Halley Comet are there, as well as "CJ's Newsletters" in 1966.

Design & construction thesis
I was contacted by Ka Chan, a student in the Department of
Architecture at the University of Strathclyde, to inform me about his
PhD thesis entitled "An Investigation into Evolving Design and
Construction of Research Stations in Antarctica and their Approaches
to Enable Human Habitation of Extreme Environments." This focusses on
the way the design of Halley Bay base has evolved from Halley-I to
Halley-VI. The Abstract begins "The mysterious land of Antarctica
symbolises the further development of human beings further afield.
'Antarctica has this mythic weight. It resides in the collective
unconscious of so many people, and it makes this huge impact, just
like outer space. It’s like going to the moon' (Jon Krakauer 2003)."
A link to the complete thesis may be found on the 6 Bases page of
the Z-Fids website.

1977 virtual reunion
This was held in October 2022. There is a report on the 1977 Zfids

Next 1977 Reunion to include 1976 and 1978 winterers
This is being organised by Steve Emery wves@btconnect.com and will be
held at the Three Swans Hotel in Market Harborough on Saturday 28th
October 2023. So far 26 have confirmed they will be attending (18 Fids
and 8 partners). If you wintered in 1976, 77 or 78 and would like to
go, and have not heard from Steve, please contact him at the email
address above.

Halley 5 model
The scale model of Halley-5, which was made in 1999 and exhibited at
the Royal Society, and was then in the BAS foyer for a while, is now
in the Science Museum. Here is the story. BAS intended to throw the
model away but Dave Brown, the 1993 wintering steel erector who worked
on the real Halley-5, saved it from the skip and for many years had it
in his house in Hungary. When he relocated back to the UK, he no
longer had room for it and so arranged for it to be shipped back and
donated to the Science Museum. The Acquisition Document was signed on
14th November 2022, and has now been catalogued under Acquisition
number 2022-1446. A link to the catalogue entry is given on the
Halley-V Model page (link from the 1999 Z-Fids page). We don't know
of any plans to exhibit it at present, but it is housed in the new
National Collections Centre in Wiltshire. This will open in 2024,
and expects to welcome research visits, and tours from the general
public and school groups.

Grillage village
I have had the following query from Pete Noble:
For somewhat nerdish reasons I won’t go into, I recently found myself
picturing the layout of Grillage Village.  All was very clear in my
memory.. with the exception of the office block. I know that the hut
had a corridor on the right (as you entered), that like all the other
huts it had 9 ‘bays’ between the ten portal frames, which produced
easily divided rooms. The met office was full width of the hut at the
far end and taking up two bays; but what were the other offices? Jim
Jamieson adds that his physics office (which included a small dark
room) was two bays wide but is uncertain whether or not it was next to
the met men. I do know that there were two offices for geology and
physiology and vague memory suggests they were only one bay each;
so that leave three bays unaccounted. Did the ionosphericists have an
office there? I do recall that glaciologists and surveyors were
housed next to the dining room, and the general dark room was next
to the surgery in a bedroom block. Any contribution from ex-Grillage
lads would be appreciated.

Calving of the West Brunt Ice Shelf
This had been expected for a long time, as it was "hanging by a
thread" about 1 km long at the McDonald Ice Rumbles, the northern end
of Chasm 1. The calving occurred on 22 Jan 2023, creating a huge
iceberg, 1550 square km, almost the size of Greater London. Details
and links to a video by Adrien Luckman, may be found on the 2018+
Zfids page.

Appeal for slides of Halley-3
Pat Cooper, wintering ionosphericist in 1979 and 1980 says:
I am starting to turn my collection of slides, pictures, cine and
video from my 27 years with BAS into a series of short films. I have
some from Halley 3 but would really like a lot more. I wintered '79
& '80 so anything from '78-'81 would be useful. I can scan slides etc
so if you have a collection gathering dust they need digitising for
posterity !. No charges of course and I can create online galleries
if anyone interested. Please contact me: patcooper@microft.co.uk
I have unlimited gallery space at: patcooper.smugmug.com

ZFids website www.zfids.org.uk
Apart from what has been mentioned above, a new picture of the dog
Booboo by Bill Laidlaw has been added.
Pictures by David Patuck and John Fry have also been added.
Links have been added to a number of Oral History interviews which
were published in January 2023. See Latest Additions, link from the
ZFids home page.

More contributions to the website are welcome at any time.

British Antarctic Oral History Project
All the 272 Oral History interviews being published have now
been transcribed by our team of volunteers. 264 of this 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). The
remaining interviews are awaiting approval before they can be

Here are a couple of extracts from the interviews:

Graham Wright (GA, 1969, 1970): The Dog Tunnel
"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.
It was about 200 or 300 yards from the huts, 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.

Denis Wilkins (Doctor, 1969): Radio pills
"I needed to have some method of measuring the core temperatures of
people. Now in those days - there are other methods now which are
more reliable - but in those days that would have been quite difficult
because you had to go sticking probes into unmentionable places or
down unmentionable places. He [Heinz Wolff] had come up with these
little temperature-sensitive radio pills; they were called
'endo-radio-sondes'. They were about the size of a big lozenge,
I would say, a couple of centimetres, 1˝ centimetres long and half a
centimetre wide, and had a little tiny battery. They gave a radio
signal out which you could pick up on an aerial, then translate that
frequency (it was a big frequency). To be technical, you would get
the null point and translate that into a temperature. You could
calibrate the dial into a temperature. It was a bit of a fiddle
because they needed calibrating against a thermometer in a water bath
and all this sort of thing. They did tend to drift but for the day
they were pretty good. And he invented the pressure-sensitive radio
pill as well which I came to use later on, quite a few years later
when I was doing some work on colons and colonic pressures in Bart's,
as a registrar"
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 z-Fids 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:

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1 Nov 2023
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