Z-fids Newsletter No. 29

March 2012

      Z - F I D S    N E W S L E T T E R   No. 29   26 Mar 2012

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

News from Halley
Pat Power, Winter Base Commander for 2012, has contributed the
following article, "A new era has begun":

"As most of you will know, the decision to winter at Halley-6 was
taken on the 28th January 2012. This was 2 weeks later than the
intended decision date, which made for an interesting couple of
weeks. As Sir Alex Ferguson would have said 'squeaky bum time'.

The summer just gone has probably been the busiest and toughest of
the new build, with a team of 80 located at Halley-6 in a
semi-permanent camp, working 12-hour shifts, 6 days a week.
There were huge amounts of work to be done by both BAS and MFL to
get the project completed. The majority of this work was completed
but there are a few rough edges around!
While everything was going mad at Z6 we also had to keep a team at
Z5 to ensure it carried on running and was ready for winter if
required. When the decision came to winter at Z6, the remaining
items at Z5 needed to be packed and moved. Z5 was then stripped and
as much waste as possible sent out on the 'Ernest Shackleton'.
You would not recognise the 'old baby' now. It was quite eerie
walking back in, now that the power has been disconnected and
corridors bare. We plan to finish the demolition next summer and
strip back to snow level. That's if anything is left after all the
souvenirs that will be taken!

The new station is brilliant and it is a great honour to be part of
the first wintering team at Halley-6. We have an experienced core
to the wintering team, with 4 of us having 10 Halley winters under
our belts (with 10 first-years making up the rest on the 14-strong
team). This will help greatly over winter as we solve some
'teething problems' which are likely to occur. So far so good and
we are now into our 3rd week of winter.
One of the most important features of Z6 is that it has allowed a
full programme of science to return to Halley. There are 2
designated science modules on Halley-6. We have a team of 5
scientists or 'beakers' as they are still known within the
wintering team. They cover Met, MF Radar, Superdarn, CASLAB and
EMQA science. We were lucky enough to have Jon Shanklin down this
summer to lead the Met move and also install the new Dobson. We
wish him well as he retires.

The living space has been vastly improved and the 'A' module is
huge. This module alone houses the kitchens, food storage, dining
room, bar, lounge, gym, computer room, and TV rooms. The bedroom
modules each contain 8 pit-rooms. For 2 people they are great but
for 1 they are brilliant. They definitely listened to past
winterers! The only problem is that the showers are too good and
you don't want to turn the water off!... But I'm afraid we don't
really dig our snow anymore. The new melt tanks are on the surface
and are bulldozed. I do feel guilty. Honestly.
The station has 2 energy modules, one each side of a fire break,
which is the link bridge. We have 4 gennies, 2 melt tanks, 2 water
day tanks, 3 x 10000 L fuel tanks, a sewage treatment plant and a
full fire suppression system. Everything is state of the art and
will keep the tech lads busy.
This winter we will be all about finding our feet and putting into
place procedures and working methods for those who are lucky enough
to follow us into Halley-6.
It is also about the station and how she actually winters! We are
in the realms of the unknown. As I write this I am very confident
that this will be a great winter in a great new station. I will
keep you updated over the winter months."

Pat has sent some pictures of the fine new accommodation, which may
be viewed on the Zfids website (link from the 2012 page).

Halley VI (and V)
Karl Tuplin (the Halley VI Project Manager) writes:
"I am pleased to announce that after a very successful '11/'12
season, the new station, Halley VI, is operational. A tremendous
effort was made by both the BAS and the Morrison teams this season
to complete the construction works and install all the planned
science. The living accommodation and science labs are all
functioning and the first wintering team led by Pat Power were
settling in to their new home as we left. After five years as a
construction site Halley has been transformed into an iconic
station that will provide a fantastic platform from which to do
Antarctic science for decades to come. At the end of the season
Halley-V was looking very sad; the Piggott building had been
completely gutted, the Laws emptied, strip-out having begun and all
the instruments had been removed from the Simpson. A small team
will return next year to complete the demolition works and clear
the site. Once the team returns, the Halley VI website will be
updated with images and hopefully walk-through video clips."
Look out for those clips. There is a link to the Halley VI website
on Z-Fids (Click "Halley VI" from the home page). In the mean time
I have put Karl's images of the old and the new stations on the
Z-Fids website. See the 2012 page.

Mike Rose's blog (link from the 2012 page) also describes some
interesting aspects of the 2011-2012 summer season. He too has some
pictures of the new station.

Sadly, as usual, there are deaths to announce.

Brian Armstrong
Brian Armstrong died shortly before Christmas. He wintered as a
geophysicist at Halley Bay in 1965 and 1966. Tony Haynes says "He
was a great fid and a very loyal friend." According to John
Skipworth, "His story about being rejected by BAS and then being
called at 24 hours notice to get down from Scotland to Southampton
and get on the 'Kista Dan' for a couple of years down South was

John Griffiths
John Griffiths died on New Years Day. He spent two winters (1962
and 1963) as a meteorologist at Halley Bay, having got a taste for
exploration when he visited Norway with the British Schools'
Exploration Society aged 17. After his Antarctic service he set up
his own firm as an insurance broker in Bromsgrove. He became a
captain in the Royal Artillery Territorial Army and was awarded the
Territorial Decoration. He never lost his interest in meteorology.
Information from the Shropshire Star newspaper, sent in by Ken Lax.
On the Z-Fids website, John contributed an article about sledging
flags (link from the 1962 page) and photo of the Halley Bay motto
and crest (link from the 1963 page).

Gordon Artz
Gordon Artz died in February. He would have been in his
mid-eighties. He wintered in 1959, the first year following the
takeover of the base by FIDS from the Royal Society. His fellow
winterer, Michael Sheret, writes "Gordon was one of two
meteorologists seconded at very short notice (as we all were) from
the South African Met Office when it was decided to keep the Royal
Society base at Halley Bay open for another year. Gordon switched
careers in South Africa and became a senior manager with Shell Oil.
He was also active with the veterans’ association of the SA Air
Force. Gordon was extremely good company at Halley Bay. I can’t
remember him ever being glum.

Ricky Chinn
Ricky Chinn died on 21st February. Ricky was a "professional Base
Leader/ Base Commander" having served in that role at Deception
Island, Argentine Islands, Halley Bay and South Georgia (King
Edward Point). Later he worked at BAS HQ for many years as
logistics officer. Peter Noble remembers him aa BC at Halley Bay in
1967, when the base complement was at its maximum (38).
"'While you're all here' was the introduction to Ricky's meetings
after smoko. Very sad news about Ricky, I remember him with respect
and affection. He had the hard job of managing two bases
simultaneously, Halley-I and Halley-II during the year of
transition.  The 'old guard' at Halley-I felt pretty hard done by,
living in pretty appalling conditions as the ice crushed their
home, and the generator kept packing up. Meanwhile at Halley-II the
incomers lived in relative warmth, slowly acquiring all mod cons.
With the obvious possibility of friction between the two sets of
personnel, Ricky wisely sent some of us new boys to live at the Old
Base and commute to work, and invited some of the Old Base lads to
live in the New Base and commute the other way. I seem to recall,
most of the Halley-I lads developed an affection for the collapsing
Halley-I and preferred to stay put - and Ricky accepted that, but
his offer helped considerably. For us new lads there was no choice;
we complained initially but we had to go, and Ricky was right. Very
well managed 'while we were all there'."

Jonathan Shanklin
I am pleased to report that Jonathan has not died but, as mentioned
by Pat Power above, he is about to retire. His boss at BAS, John
King, writes:
"Next Friday (30 March), Jonathan Shanklin will be officially
retiring from BAS after nearly 35 years' service. Jon trained many
generations of Halley Metfids and spent much time at the station,
most recently overseeing the move to the new Halley 6. He is one of
the few people who can claim to have slept at Halleys 3,4,5, and 6!
I'm sure that there are many ex-Halley metfids who would like to
pass on their best wishes to Jon on this occasion. Messages for Jon
should be sent to Glenda Harden ( ghard@bas.ac.uk ), ideally by 28

Norman Eddleston photos 
Norman has scanned in a lot of his photos from 1971-72, and put
them on the Internet. They will be of interest to those who
wintered with him those years. He says:
"I took a lot of B&Ws, mainly in 1971, and around 70 are portraits
of individual people (plus a couple of cats and many dogs). Most of
the portraits were not printed at the time so have never been seen
up until now. It occurred to me that those pictured might like to
see their images, from the days of big hair (wait till Gordon
Devine sees one of his!), so I have uploaded them to Photobucket. I
have also chosen about 70 slides which illustrate (some of) what we
got up to between 1971 and 1973! They stretch across time at Halley
but also include the voyage down and back."
There are links to the two albums on the 1971 page of the Z-Fids
website. They are password protected and the password is Base-Z
(the first and last characters are Upper Case).

Z-fids website
The main recent addition to the web site has been the addition of a
new page for the 2012 winter, and updating all the statistics. The
picture of the Laws Building, which has adorned the home page for
many years, has been replaced by one of Halley VI.

Bothma film
The silent colour film made by Johannes Bothma at Halley in 1959
has now been enhanced with a commentary by Nelson Norman, who was
the medical officer that year. Copies will be available on DVD in
due course.

BAS Club
Thanks to the BAS Club for continuing to sponsor the cost of the
zfids.org.uk Internet domain name. The AGM and Reunion Dinner takes
place this year on Saturday 7th July. If you are not already a
member of the club, it is worth considering joining. More details
may be found at: www.antarctica.ac.uk/basclub/

Z-60 Diamond Jubilee Reunion
Many of you will remember, and hopefully they will be good
memories, the 50-year celebration held at Northampton in 2006. Now
a small group is planning the 60th. More details will be published
in future Z-Fids Newsletters and on the website.

British Antarctic Oral History Project
More edited extracts from the transcripts (see
www.antarctica.ac.uk/oralhistory) are reproduced below. If anyone
would like to help with the project as a volunteer, please get in

Murray Roberts (1968 doctor): The Nick Mathys dilemma
Nick Mathys broke his leg while he was skiing in the Shackleton
Mountains, 400 miles from base. We were faced, or I was faced, with
a problem. We ascertained by radio that he had probably broken his
leg. Fortunately the sledging stores had got plaster of Paris
bandages and we had practised putting them on during the winter, so
he had the wherewithal to plaster his leg up which he did. But the
question then was: ‘What do we do with him?’ I consulted HQ. Of
course in those days communication was pretty terrible but we sent
signals back to London, looking for guidance really about whether
to get him out, We had a reply from Sir Vivian Fuchs saying ‘Well,
if you, as a medical officer, think he should be extracted, we will
do it. But of course it will ruin the Americans’ summer programme;
it will ruin our own. We will have to bring everybody out of the
mountains. It will finish our field season. But you are the guy on
the ground and if you think it is necessary, we will do it.’ which
I did not think was very helpful. But since Nick seemed fairly
happy, and his foot was pointing the right way and it did not hurt,
we left him there and he eventually got back five weeks later, I
think. In the mean time he kept telling us by radio, on our evening
radio schedules, that he was terribly worried that his plaster of
Paris was getting soft and breaking down, and that the plaster cast
was coming adrift. But when he got back, it was actually about an
inch thick and it nearly killed me trying to get it off. It was
incredibly tough, but he did fine."
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/75.

Mike Skidmore: Taking off for the Shackleton Mountains
"We took 27 dogs, 3 sledges, 6 men, food, all the supplies needed
to establish us for about 10 weeks and then I think they put an
extra drum of avtur on in case of problems. The amazing thing was
when we tried to take off from Halley. The Hercules, the C130F,
used to have JATO [Jet Assisted Takeoff] bottles which they
attached to the side of the fuselage to give it a bit of a boost to
get it airborne. They used to go bouncing along the ground. At a
certain point, once he got sufficient airspeed, the pilot would
pull the switches and it was hoped that the JATO would give him
that bit more punch to get him into the sky. It did not work. We
went on and on and I seem to remember somebody said ‘If they keep
going in this direction, we are going to end up in the Gin Bottle.’
This was an area of ice disturbance about 4 or 5 miles from base.
Finally we staggered into the air, circled base once and we were
off. I think we were given an all-up weight of about 10,000lb."
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/76.

Scott Centenary
It is just a hundred years since Captain Scott and his companions
perished on the way back from the South Pole. A tremendous amount
has changed in that time of course, but it is a thought that Halley
has been in operation for more than half the time.

It's a small world
Last November I went trekking in Nepal, and who should be in the
same trekking group but Richard Turner, formerly chef at Halley and
now Catering Officer on the 'James Clark Ross'. There is a photo of
us at Everest Base Camp (link from the 2000 page of Z-Fids).

As usual this newsletter is being sent out by email only, to 446
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). 392 people have now registered on Z-fids. If you have, your
name will be shown as a link on the appropriate year page(s).


20 October 2012
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