Z-fids Newsletter No. 26

January 2011

      Z - F I D S    N E W S L E T T E R   No. 26   13 Jan 2011 

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

News from Halley
The 2010/11 summer season is now well underway, with the continuing
construction of the Halley VI modules being a major focus of
activities. The Ernest Shackleton arrived early on Christmas Day,
but many of the summer personnel had already arrived, in mid-
November, by air via Cape Town, Novolazarevskaya and Sanae. Matt
Brown, the Base Commander, has sent the following report [The
photographs Matt mentions are on the 2011 page of the Z-fids

Halley V update
This is proving to be yet another busy season at Halley, with the
number of personnel on station reaching 115 at times. The building
of the new Halley VI base continues, as do the important long-term
science projects at Halley V. The 2010 winter team have had a very
busy, productive and enjoyable winter and kept the base in
excellent shape for the forthcoming summer season.

The weather on the whole has been relatively good so far. However,
periods of high wind and blowing snow towards the beginning of the
season caused disruption to work and made movement around base

December was dominated by preparation for relief. Vehicles and
sledges were readied and moved to Creek 3, the ramp and sea ice
were tested and prepared and the route to and from base was
groomed. The Ernest Shackleton arrived five days later than
anticipated due to ice conditions. This delay necessitated the
change from the planned 12-hour to 24-hour working during relief.
Over the course of the next six days and nights hundreds of tonnes
of cargo, food and over 2200 drums of fuel were transported the 12
kilometres from ship to base.

Halley VI Update
Bad weather at the start of the 10/11 season delayed the arrival of
the early input team by over two weeks. Therefore instead of a
phased arrival of three flights over three consecutive weekends
nearly 40 BAS and Morrison personnel descended on Halley in one
weekend as soon as the weather had cleared.

The first jobs were to flatten the wind tails, groom the
construction areas and thoroughfares and build the temporary summer
accommodation units for the summer work force to live in. The other
main job was to dig out the modules and tow them to the new
construction line.

Having towed the blue modules last year we were confident we could
move them relatively easily this year. So the main test for this
early part of the season was the digging out and towing of the red
module. We had carried out tests in the 06/07 Season and towed 166
tonnes so theoretically the red module should move quite easily
weighing a mere 120 tonnes. However, it was still a nerve wracking
time for Martin Bell who planned and organised the move.

As you can see from the picture the tow was successful. Although
there appears to be an awful lot of vehicles doing the towing these
were required mainly to get the module moving and up the ramp. Once
on the flat the two Challenger tractor units could tow the module
without assistance.

Once on the construction line, temporary power supplies were
connected to all the modules, lighting and heating switched on and
construction could commence.

The modules themselves are taking shape. At the start of the season
they were little more than empty shells. At the end of December
most of the internal walls have been constructed along with the
associated mechanical and electrical services. The photographs show
the progress in the red module.

The aim of this season is to complete as much as possible inside
each module, test the generators and then tow all of the modules to
the Halley VI site.

Simon Gill, the Morrisons Project Manager, has also written in from
Halley to say that the progress on Halley VI is going well this
season and they are currently on track to complete the works this
season. He also mentions that he has been reading 'Dog Days on Ice'
by Peter Noble and says "I find it a great read when one is here
and comparing the late '60s life to what it is now. It's also good
to get a snapshot of when Halley 2 was built compared to now...
such a difference in how technology has changed for the good and
not so good." If you would like a copy of the book, there is a link
to the 'Dog Days on Ice' website on the Z-fids home page.

Penny Goodearl, who is spending the summer as Admin Assistant, has
written in the Halley Station Diary for November 2010 (link from
the Z-fids 2010 page) about flying in to the base via
Novolazarevskaya, and her impressions on arriving on base for the
first time.

Halley webcam
There is an updated picture from the webcam (which is currently
situated at the construction site) every hour on the BAS website,
and it is interesting to see progress by comparing successive
shots. There is a link to the webcam on the Z-fids home page.

Big noise band '92-95
John ('Axe') Hunter (1993/94 chef) writes:
"Reason I'm e mailing  is I've been talking to Shaun Burkey and
Dave Brown on the Facebook, and we were wondering if we could put a
request out?  If any one has any 'big noise band' photos.
especially from the weather haven summer doo of 93?. or even better
any of the video footage that was filmed at the time. and if we
could get a copy etc? We've put couple on my Facebook page with the
usual Z5 stuff."  If you can help, please get in touch with John
(whose email address is in the Z-fids 1993 and 1994 pages).

Ian Rutherford
It is sad to have to report the passing of Ian Rutherford (aka
Geordie or Marra) who died peacefully in hospital on 27 October
2010 following a stroke. He was the builder at Halley in 1976 and
1977. Ken Lax says "We will miss his company at the Halley Bay 1977
reunions and we will raise our glasses in his memory at the next
reunion in 2011."

John Youens
Another death to be recorded: John Youens died on 4th November
2010. He was the wintering doctor at Halley in 1985.

George Hemmen's lecture
George Hemmen gave a lecture on "Royal Society expeditions in the
20th century" at the Royal Society on 5th November 2010. This began
with an account of the setting up of the first Halley Bay base in
1956 for the International Geophysical Year. You can download a
podcast of the lecture from

Z-fids website
New articles have been added since the last Z-fids Newsletter. Muff
Warden reflects on changing times (1971 Z-fids page), and Bob Lee
remembers the construction of a long-drop loo pit in 1961, using
burning petrol to melt a deep hole in the snow (probably would not
be allowed today under Health and Safety). Roger Tiffin has
provided pictures of the dog tunnel, the Muckletappers dog team,
the Fairey plane and the cats Dougal, Dillon and Zebedee (links
from 1969 page). Bob Lee contributed a picture of Jack Hill's
greenhouse (1962 page). Many thanks to all who have contributed to
the website. More contributions are always welcome; not just new
items, but also corrections and updates. Thanks to the BAS Club for
sponsoring the zfids.org.uk internet domain.

BAS Club AGM and reunion dinner
This event will be held in Bristol, on board the SS Great Britain,
on 18th June 2011. The contact is Alec Hurley (email on Z-fids 1975
page). Places are limited so get your booking in soon. Details have
been circulated to BAS Club members with the last BAS Club
Magazine. If you are not a member and wish to join, contact the
Club via its website (link on the Z-fids home page).

Polar books
Neil Marsden (Stonington, Base E, 1965 & 1966) has asked me to
publicise a website which he has recently set up to sell off his
excess polar book stock. This is www.polarbooks.net

Antarctic Memorial
A memorial tablet commemorating those who died in Antarctica with
BAS and FIDS is to be placed in the crypt of St Pauls Cathedral. It
will be dedicated on either the 10th or the 11th May 2011. More
details are on the Antarctic Monument home page (link on the Z-Fids
home page).

British Antarctic Oral History Project
This project was described the last Newsletter. Details are now on
the BAS website at www.antarctica.ac.uk/oralhistory
Here you can see full details about the project, together with a
list of audio (and in some cases video) recordings which have been
made. Audio clips from some of the recordings are available on the
site, and are quite fascinating. Transcripts have been made of some
of the recordings. Copies of the recordings and transcripts may be
requested through BAS Archives department (there is a fee for this
service). Volunteers are still needed for the project; if you would
like to help, contact me or Allan Wearden. In each Z-fids
Newsletter I will feature a couple of brief (edited) extracts from
the transcripts. Here are the first.

Ben Hodges: Party on K16
"We had all finished at Halley Bay. All the cargo which was going
to the ship was going. We had a Sno-cat, I think there were half a
dozen of us, and we had a case of beer. We were having a great
time. We had finished. It had been hard work, a hard season, and we
had a few cans of beer on the way to the ship. The first mate saw
us. You are supposed to drive with the hatch open, in case you were
to fall in a crack. We had not done that. We just jumped out on the
sea ice when we got to the end. He said 'Are you all having a death
wish?' That was K16, the last Sno-cat back that season."
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/44.

Alan Smith (Big Al): Sledging with Bob Thomas
"Bob Thomas was a scientist. He was keen because he was the first
glaciologist, and he wanted to get to his work, which I understand.
But my job was to [ensure] that we get there, do the work, and get
back safely. We were pushing beyond what I considered [safe],
because I have experienced [whiteout] before; you can t see a metre
in front. We got to a point where visibility was down to five
metres, and I said  Bob, we stop. We camp.  He said  No, no, we
have got to go on.  I said  No, we are in a dangerous zone here. We
are surrounded by crevasses. We stop. , and gradually he agreed. We
pitched a tent. The visibility twenty-four hours later was
improved. And by God, he was glad we stopped. There were holes
everywhere. In fact, in my log I wrote that I was beginning to
think that the Antarctic was full of holes. Anyway Bob was quite
happy then; we had great comradeship from then on. We sat it out.
He realised that I was looking out for his benefit, that we would
get through it and we had no problems, because, when the weather
was good, I didn t need sleep, so I was like him."
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/46

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13 June 2011
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