Halley Bay Sledging Flags and Bags


Hwfa Jones, meteorologist; 1970-1971

As far as I know it was never the practice to fly sledge flags at Halley Bay 69 - 72 or before that as much of the sledging knowlege was passed down and it had refined to a point where it was almost impossible to think of a practical improvement. (Why do you do it that way? Because we did it that way last year!)
(I remember the only improvement I could think of was to fix dog clips to the lashing loops so the sledge could be lashed (and unlashed) quicker by clipping the lashline instead of threading it through all the loops). I also used a trail rope when alone - after an embarassing walk)!

I did use a flag on one trip - over the load - this was just to get some colour into the photos!

Halley flag 1970

What was distinctive was the way people first made then illustrated their sledge bags - Some were real works of folk art - I remember Mike Warden had a Hereford Bull on his - I did a sketch of a very superior looking Changi! -I still have it (see photo below) Looks better with the passage of time! I wonder if this continues on the Skidoos?

Sledge bag

Another first was probably the Jolly Roger 6'x8' Flag made by Brian Cornock in '71 - I still remember how he attached it to the Argentine Helicopter skis (and have a wonderful photo of it ) returning to the Belgrano. I believe it was a factor in the Argentinian decision to invade British Territory some years later - but that's another story!)

Perhaps the painting thing goes back a long way - we were conscious that Wilson had been before us and nothing could match his work! - The Sledge bags were basic and sometimes 2D cartoon like as none of us could paint properly. A few of us did sketches but I was never happy about anything I produced of the landscape around Halley with the work of Wilson at the back of my mind!

[20 July 2005]

The photograph below left is of the two 'Kegs' resplendent in full colours including the smaller 'Black Hand Gang' flags. This photograph illustrates the pride of the oil spattered machine men who suffered from the gentle mocking of the 'clean' doggymen.
The photograph also illustrates the scaffolding reinforcement of the cabs which appeared overnight on all the Muskegs after the
crevasse accident of 1965

[21 May 2006]
The smaller picture (below right) shows the black hand gang flag in more detail -- Ed.

Below is a picture of another of the decorated Sledge Bags - this is on Muff's (Mike Warden) Sledge with the Beatles team 1971, just East of the Gin Bottle. The Hereford Bull is clear enough [see detail, right below]. I do not recall this trip (nor ever building a cairn at the Gin Bottle), so the photo may well have been taken by someone else?.. and dished out after a darkroom 'session'. The practice [of decorating sledgebags] seems to be more of a Halley tradition than on the Peninsula as with more use of aircraft, the Doggy Men were flown out of the field and left their bags / entire gear with the replacement drivers. [19 June 2006]

A better picture is

Here is yet another piece of Halley History concerning the 'Halley Bay Sledging Flags and Bags' Here on the Lansing (It was I think called the 'Fairy Plane' at the time?) is another example of Fid 'Artwork' - the insignia on the front is "Abdul's Flying Carpet" [see detail, right below]. This would be early in 1970 before yet another restoration and paint job. Abdul was:- Smith G. (Geoff 'Abdul') Electrician 1966 - 1969 and I remember Mike Taylor in 71 having a hand in a later restoration - there seems to have been some attraction between the electricians and the Lansing (after all there is wire hanging out all over the place!) [31 October 2006 ]

See also, article by John Griffiths

22 February 2007
1970 index page
Z-fids home page