Z-fids Newsletter No. 54

November 2023

      Z - F I D S    N E W S L E T T E R   No. 54   01 Nov 2023

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

News about Halley
Thomas Barningham (aka Barney) writes (dated 31 Oct 2023):
"Here we go again... Myself and 4 others are currently on our way to
Heathrow to fly South to Cape Town before the actual "South" flight
to the continent in a few days. We are the Halley open up team,
consisting of a Facilities Engineer, a Commissioning Engineer,
a Vehicles Manager, a Vehicle Mechanic and a Station Leader. We hope
to land at Halley around 7th November, all being well, and we will
input again via Wolsfang Runway, which is almost directly south of
Cape Town. We will then have roughly 2 weeks to bring the buildings
online before the main input of approximately 30 staff around the
20th November, and then the season begins in earnest.

It's going to be another landmark season for Halley as we are finally
getting resupplied by ship, the first time since 2017/18, bringing
much needed fuel, food and supplies, alongside some interesting
science projects that will be taking place over the next few years.
This also finally gives us the chance to remove 6 years of waste,
including 3500 empty fuel drums, which will need raising to the
surface prior to the ship arriving.. shovels at the ready.

Following the calving of the Western Brunt in January this year we
now have a new workable shelf edge to undertake relief from. We have
5 potential relief sites to investigate with varying shelf heights
between 12 and 25m with a distance from station of between 15 and
20 km, which is much more favourable than the 80 km route we were
previously considering, around Halloween Crack.

We've chartered a vessel in collaboration with the Alfred Wenger
Institute (AWI), called the Malik Arctica - it's a cargo ship that's
done Antarctic work before, but typically resupplies the remote
communities of Greenland from Denmark. The ship will set sail from
Harwich in a couple of weeks and head south to Cape Town, it will
then sail onwards to relieve Neumayer before another 4 days sailing
south to us at Halley, arriving just before New Year.

It's going to be a very busy December for us as we prepare the relief
site and outgoing cargo prior to the ship arrival and look to achieve
most of our ops normal season tasks, such as raising the Drewry,
Garage and Modules. We've also a new caboose to install for 2 new
experiments (an air glow spectrophotometer and a radar system). The
CASLab is getting a much needed re wire and re paint and we're also
supporting increasing amounts of field flying from Halley again, now
that ship resupply is more secured.

Following the relief, we have two major projects to undertake. The
first is an exciting new NERC funded project called RIFT-Tip, headed
up by our glaciologists. We'll be doing some ice core drilling on the
Brunt, this year and the next, alongside some seismic work. The aim is
to better understaff the fracture dynamics of the ice shelf. The Brunt
gives us this fantastic opportunity to undertake this work as it has
been so intensively monitored and instrumented throughout this
fascinating and dynamic period. Some of you may have read the recent
publication in the Cryosphere detailing the response of the ice shelf
to the West Brunt calving.

The second major project will be installing our second microturbine.
This has been planned since the initiation of the project in 2017,
but this is the first opportunity we've had to bring in another
containerised system. It will sit alongside the primary microturbine
as a standby unit should the primary fail and so should improve the
reliability of the power to our automated science experiments
throughout the winter months. As I write this, the microturbine is
still spinning at Halley, touch wood, providing power to all the
experiments and the comms, including the Dobson spectrophotometer
which now automatically takes measurements throughout the important
spring period when the ozone hole forms.

The future's looking bright for Halley with lots of exciting work on
the horizon, and the team will be excited and energised to finally
see a vessel alongside the ice shelf once again."

Many thanks to Barney for keeping us up to date with the latest news.

Brunt Ice Shelf
A BAS Press Release in September (link on the Zfids 2018+ page)
reported that the horizontal movement of the Shelf had increased
from 1-2.5 metres per day to about 4 metres per day, following the
calving of the A-81 iceberg in January 2023. The situation is being
continuously monitored using GPS sensors. The research station is not
under any immediate threat.

Sadly, There are deaths to report.

John Flick (Shepherd)
John Flick was radio operator in 1971 and 1972. There is a picture of
him in the 1971 Midwinter Dinner menu (on 1971 page of website), and
another of him golfing with Norman Eddleston (link on the same page).
After returning from Halley, he was based in Devon and changed his
name to John Shepherd. In 2008 he wrote an article for the Fan Hitch
magazine called "Memories of a non-doggy man". There is a link to this,
again on the 1971 page. He lost contact with his family and his nephew
Robert Buckley had been trying to track him down. Appeals were included
in Newsletters Nos. 30, 38 and 49, but to no avail. The sad conclusion
is that Robert has now found that John died at the end of 2019 of
dementia in a care home in Devon - "a desperately sad end to what seems
like a life of struggles". He noted in his will only two names: a
Simon Guppy and a Gunnar Nordström. If anybody knows these, please let
me know.

Captain Tom Woodfield OBE
Tom was a BAS ship's captain for many years, before he retired
in 1974 and became an Elder Brother at Trinity House. He died on
30 September at the age of 90, leaving his wife Ella. He wrote an
excellent account of his life in a book called "Polar Mariner", and was
also recorded on video for the British Antarctic Oral History Project
(accessed via the BAS Club website). Although Tom was not a Halley Fid,
he played on important role in the history of the base, as he was
Master of the Bransfield when she visited Halley Bay on her maiden
voyage in 1971 (I was one of the incoming Fids on board). Prior to that,
the base had been relieved by the Perla Dan, not a BAS ship. In the
1973/74 season, Tom was again Master on the Bransfield when she
arrived, and this time he was accompanied by his new wife Ella who was
very popular with the Fids on board. She became the first woman to
visit Halley, and there is a photo of her with ships' officers, on the
ice, taken by Graham Chambers (1974 Zfids page).

Midwinter magazines
Work is progressing to put Midwinter and other magazines on the Zfids
website. Since the last Newsletter, the following have been added: 21
Slush Magazines from 1971, collected by Norman Eddleston, the 1960
Halley Comet magazine, and FEENIX magazines from 1968 and 1969.

Z-70 Update
Tony Wincott writes:
"Preparations for  Z70 reunion are progressing BUT we need MORE
Halley Fids to express an interest to attend. Thank you to those who
have been in touch to date and to those who have offered help to
organise the event.
Currently we have on record only 43 Fids looking to attend.
Could those who have already responded confirm if they will be
attending with a guest / partner so we can get a better picture of
numbers. So far we have 13 guests advised. In previous years we have
#had circa 300 attending the Z Reunions and would like to get close
to this number to make the weekend viable. As with Z50 and Z60 we are
looking to hold the event over 3 days to ensure plenty of time for
socialising etc. Friday evening through to Sunday lunchtime.
Northampton Town Centre Hotel https://all.accor.com/hotel/C0W3/index.en.shtml
which hosted both previous Z reunions is keen to see us return.
We have been well looked after here and the hotel has had a complete
makeover in the last two years.
The organisers appreciate there will be some Z Fids who wish to attend
but find that their financial circumstances or mobility make it
somewhat difficult to commit. There is a BAS Club funding mechanism.
which could be made available to meet such requests and allow
attendance accordingly. All requests of this nature will be considered
and treated in the strictest confidence by the organising Committee
These should be addressed to:- THE BRITISH ANTARCTIC SURVEY CLUB,
Z70 Committee, 61 BRIDGE STREET, KINGTON, HR5 3DJ. UK. Contact email
is info.basclub@gmail.com If you know of any Halley Fids who are not
BAS Club members please let them know about the Z70 event All are
welcome to attend so please contact me if you are looking to attend.
Don’t leave it until later!!
Looking forward to hearing from you."

86/87 mini reunion
A mini reunion for 1986 and 1987 winterers was held in May, hosted by
Paul and Pauline Aslin at their home in Snowdonia. 11 Fids and 8
partners made the journey. A report with pictures is on the website,
1986 page.

1967-1970 Reunion
This was held at East Keswick, near Wetherby, on 17th May 1923. A
report by Keith Gainey is on the website (1967 page).

76-77-78 Reunion
Reunions for the 1977 wintering team have long been held at intervals
of one or two years, organised by Ken Lax, the 1977 base commander.
This year the event was widened to include 1976 and 1978 winterers
as well. It was organised by Steve Emery and held on 28th October at
the Three Swans Hotel, Market Harborough. 22 Fids attended, with
the total attendance of 34, including guests and partners. After
dinner, Ken read extracts from the 1977 Base Diary, and presentations
were given on the new ship, RRS Sir David Attenborough, and the current
state of the Brunt Ice Shelf.

BAS Club Reunion, Dundee 1922
Lewis Juckes report of this event has been added to the website (link
"Reunions" on 1964 page.

Z Heraldry
Bob Wells emailed me to say that a recent chance encounter with some
heraldry reminded him of a shield in the Grillage Village lounge which,
in rude faux French, instructed readers to mind their own business.
This is best seen by following the link to "Halley motto and crest"
on the 1963 page. But it was above the fireplace in the Halley I
lounge in one of Derek Ward's 1957 photos, so it was presumably made
by one of the IGYE guys. Does anyone know who? Bob says it was moved
to Halley II, and was in the lounge in 1969 and 1970, fixed to a black
shield (by whom?) and wasn't a permanent feature but was just propped
against a wall. Personally, I don't remember seeing it in 1971-72. Does
anyone else? The 1957 photo also shows on the wall a portrait of
Edmond Halley after whom the Royal Society named their base. Was that
moved on?

Transferrable artefacts
Bob also wondered about things that may have lasted a long time at Z,
being moved from base to base, for example the signed photos of the
Queen and Duke of Edinburgh dating from the Royal Society days. They
were certainly moved to Halley-II. Did they go further? As an aside,
we also had a photo (unsigned) of Princess Anne, because one of the
winterers fancied her (she was 22 and unmarried at the time). 
The photos of all the wintering parties certainly got moved to the Red
module of Halley VI ("Wall of Fame" in the Picture index).
Bob also mentioned the signpost, piano, JATO bottles and Lansing snow
plane. The last three were abandoned at Halley II (no room at
Halley III). There are a number of articles about them on the Zfids
website, which you can find using the index. The signpost which
started life in 1968 was still there, at Halley VI, in 2021. Look up
Signpost in website index. Also, the Memorial was still there in 2020
after being constructed originally in 1963, to commemorate the death
of Neville Mann who was lost on the sea ice, and sadly had 4 further
names added for Jeremy Bailey, John Wilson, David Wild and Miles
Mosley. Their stories can be found on the British Antarctic Monument 
website (link on ZFids home page).

Endurance chart
Geoff Lovegrove set me a copy of the chart made by Frank Worsley as
Shackleton's "Endurance" sailed past the future site of Halley Bay
in 1915. Geoff has annotated the chart to compare the Endurance's
voyage with that of the Tottan 41 years later, when the base was
established by the Royal Society IGY Expedition in January 1956.
Worsley notes "Heavily crevassed and broken" (MacDonald Ice Rumples),
"Gentle Slope onto the Barrier" (Halley Bay). Barrier was then the
term for the ice shelf. Tottan was heading for Vahsel Bay to establish
the Royal Society base, but was turned back by heavy pack ice at
76.5S, roughly the latitude where Endurance was beset. She turned
back and put the base at 75.5S instead.

Kit issue
Norman Eddleston has contributed a list of the kit issued to him for a
2-year stay (1971 and 1972) at Halley. This included "Drawers, cellular
short" (2) and "Vests, string" (3). Link on the 1971 page.

ZFids website www.zfids.org.uk
The website has now been running for more than 22 years and the
counter om the home page shows that it is having about 10 visits per

Various additions to the website have been noted above. Apart from
those, the links to the short films popular on base listed by Mike
Durrant (1967 page): "The Last Tram", "The Shell History of Motor
Racing" and "Holiday" have been repaired.

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 these 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:

Bill Bellchambers (Ionosphericist, 1957, 58, 64, 65): Crevasse Accident
"[The 1965 fatal crevasse accident] was a disaster that should never
have happened, in my view. Apart from Dai Wild, none of the others had
any dog training. They never did any dog training during the winter or
the early spring. So none of them, including Ian Ross, knew how to
drive a dog team. The other thing is: they were late in the season and
while this has some attractions in that you can often see the lids of
crevasses late in the season. At the same time, a lot of the lids are
stronger early in the season. Late in the season there is a slight
curvature where the lid sinks slightly and you can see the lines whereas
early in the season there is no sink in the lid and it is stronger too.
And the third problem I had is this equipment which they had
supposedly for detecting crevasses. Now this was not a big crevasse.
I have got a picture somewhere of it. It was a work of art to get a
tractor down it. If the tractor had stayed where it was, it could not
have gone down, but because it stuck its nose down, down it went.
Of course it squeezed everything. But I come back to the point I made
earlier. When you get onto a crevasse, there is only one way out and
if you don't take it, you are a gonna, and I think what they did: they
detected the crevasse, put the brakes on - nosedived. That is my view."
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/156.

Alan ("Dad") Etchells (Tractor mechanic, 1963, 64, 67, 68):
Tractor travel to the mountains
"It was 240 miles to the nearest mountains, which were the Tottans,
from base. We had no compasses - well we had compasses but you
couldn't set them up in the vehicle, because they were sitting on top
of the axle, and as soon as you started and the axle started turning
then the vibrations ... and you couldn't fix them anywhere else really.
So we had to set up a system on the vehicle to put a mirror on the
front windscreen with a line on it, and welded a piece of rod onto the
exhaust pipe which was behind the vehicle, behind the back window,
and the driver looked through the mirror, sighted the line on the mirror
onto the line on the exhaust pipe, and then on to the following vehicle
which travelled in the tracks of the first vehicle. So to start with
the driver, your spare man went outside and set the Muskeg up with
a compass, sighting along it, so it was running on the bearing, and
then the second vehicle went in the exact tracks of the first vehicle
and stayed about 30 yards behind, so if the driver of the first one
looked through the mirror, sighted on the exhaust pipe and on the back
vehicle, he could more or less drive a straight line. Once you got
going we put a flag in every two miles - they it called a 'Glacio flag'
- and measured it so they could measure it again next time they went
past, for accumulation, to find out what the accumulation was in that
particular area. And because the surface is up and down, you could look
back, sight back, and you could perhaps see one or two flags and you
could move your bearing about and just keep a straight line. It worked
out very well actually. Once we got within about 70 miles or so you
could see the mountains so you could aim for them. So that was a bit
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/35.

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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16 Feb 2024
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