Z-fids Newsletter No. 37

November 2015

      Z - F I D S    N E W S L E T T E R   No. 37   12 Nov 2015

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

When:  7th - 9th of October 2016 
Where: The Park Inn Hotel, Northampton. UK
Cost : £78 per person (not including accommodation)
Contact: Email: Z60Celebration2016@gmail.com
Website: https://sites.google.com/site/z60celebration/
Tony Wincott writes:
"Well folks it is now less than a year until this great event. Over 100
have signed up to attend but we are looking for a lot more! Fids are
notorious for leaving things until the last minute. So if you are
looking to attend this bash then we would ask you dally no longer and
get your application in NOW please. These events take a great deal of
organising to make them a success and we do need sufficient funds
available before the event. There are some who have expressed interest
but have yet to send in their application form. We would urge you to
complete and send in asap." For more information, see later in this

News from Halley

Pete Smith sends this:

"As I write this, summer has officially begun here at Halley. We’ve
had our first aircraft of the season and it was a real pleasure to
see new faces after over eight months of isolation here at Halley.

The winter was challenging at times, the record low temperature was
broken with -56.2 and it certainly felt like it. Of course, the wind
here at Halley is a constant reminder that we’re not at home in the UK.
Whilst in the pit rooms you can feel the gentle rocking of the modules
as the station is buffeted by the elements and during the dark winter
months, it can feel like being on another planet.

Now, the sun has returned and once more, the station gears up for a
busy summer season. The ski way was groomed for the large number of
flights expected over the next few weeks and preparations are underway
for the Shackleton to arrive next month for first call relief.

The 2015 wintering team will soon be meeting their replacements for
the first time and thoughts of home are growing more commonplace now
as our time here at Halley 6 is growing to a close.

It’s been an incredible experience to winter at Halley and one that,
I’m sure, will always be a part of each of the winter team.

Pete Smith
Electrical Services Tech
Halley 6 Winter Team 2015"

It is also worth noting that there have been some good auroral displays
this year. An example is shown on the 2015 page of www.zfids.org.uk,
and others are on the blogs (links at the bottom of the page).

Due to recent movements of the ice shelf, it is going to be necessary
to move the station (which of course was designed to make this
possible), as a crack has appeared in the ice shelf. The tip of the
crack is approximately five kilometres from the station. Preparations
for the move will take place this season, and the actual move in
2016/2017. More information will appear on the BAS website shortly.


Sadly, as usual, there are deaths to announce.

Bob Thomas
Bob died on 2 February 2015. He spent two winters (1960, 1961) at
Argentine Islands as a met man, and then two winters (1966, 1967) at
Halley studying the Brunt Ice Shelf for a PhD at the Scott Polar
Research Institute. He went on to have a distinguished career at NASA.
David McKerrow says "I remember him as cheery and tough; you would hear
him coming and oh how he loved a discussion, the more heated the
better!" An obituary has been written by his colleagues at NASA and is
on the website of the International Glaciological Society at

David Simmons
David Simmons passed away peacefully on 7th August 2015 in Bottisham
near Cambridge. David was not a Halley Fid; he wintered as a
geophysicist at Argentine Islands (1957 and 1958). He may have been
known to some Halley physicists when they trained or wrote up at BAS
Cambridge, where David supervised the observatory magnetics programme
when he rejoined BAS after a career in teaching.

Z-fids website www.zfids.org.uk
It has been a difficult time for the website since the last Newsletter.
Firstly, in April, came the loss of several months of updates, due to
unwelcome and unannounced changes made by the hosting company Demon
Internet. I emailed everyone about this at the end of May. Eventually
the site was fully restored and I moved to another provider (Zen
Internet) for email and web hosting.

Secondly, in June, the new BAS website came online. This resulted in
several links not working and many pictures not being shown. The reason
was that BAS took the decision not to transfer the Halley station
diaries for 2000-2012 to the new site, and not to transfer the pictures
in any of the diaries. I am currently working to restore as much of this
missing content as possible, but it will take some time.

Norman Eddleston has put online a recording made at Halley-II in 1972
(with one section from 1971). This is of better quality than the
previous one uploaded, and contains such gems as "Paul Brangham
discusses peppermint creams and sherry" and "Paul Brangham fighting
the Turdicle down the Bog (with Dave Fletcher)". Where would we have
been in '72 without those stalwarts Paul and Dave? There a link on the
1972 Z-Fids page.

Pete Smith has sent in a nice photo of the 2015 Sun-up celebration held
on top of one of the energy modules (where the station flagpole is
located). Link on the 2015 Z-Fids page.

The 2015 page now also contains a link to the rather fine igloo built in
March, and featured in Alex Finch's blog.

Wall of Fame at Halley VI
This is pictured in Alex Finch's Base Tour (link at the bottom of the
2015 Z-Fids page). It is the wall in the Big Red module on which are
hung photographs of all the previous wintering parties. EXCEPT that it
was recently discovered that there was no picture of the 1960 team. The
one on the Z-Fids 1960 page was of rather low quality, but eventually it
was found that Colin Johnson (1960 Wireless operator and mechanic) had
the original which he kindly donated to BAS Archives. Good copies were
made for the Wall of Fame (framed and mounted by Pete Smith) and also
the Z-Fids 1960 page.

Z60; Halley Bay Diamond Jubilee Celebration
The weekend of events will include the gala dinner, a webcast with the
wintering Z6 team, an exhibition of Halley memorabilia, nostalgic
movies, behind-the-scenes film of Halley 6's construction, talks from
eminent Antarcticans and much more. There will plenty of time for
catching up with old friends as well as making some new ones. The venue
is very much looking forward to hosting Z60 and they did us proud at
Z50. The Z60 bash is open to anyone who has ever been to Halley or has
an interest in the Antarctic and Fids.

For booking forms, latest updates, contact numbers and details on
volunteering, go to https://sites.google.com/site/z60celebration/

The Park Inn is now accepting accommodation bookings for the weekend.
For full details, visit the website or email Tony Wincott via the Z60
email address Z60Celebration2016@gmail.com for further assistance.

To mark the event there is arranged for a unique range of clothing
available, all featuring the Z60 logo. For details, see the Z60 website.
There is a funding mechanism available for Z Fids-who wish to attend but
find that their financial circumstances or mobility make it somewhat
difficult to commit. For details, see the Z60 website.

British Antarctic Oral History Project
The first 50 BAOHP interviews (out of 284), with their transcripts, are
now online on the BAS Club website www.basclub.org/oral-history/
thanks to the efforts of several people in BAS, the BAS Club, the UK
Antarctic Heritage Trust, and the BAS Club website developers (Digital
Nomads). I will however continue to put here edited extracts relevant to

Martin Pinder (Snoopy): Arrival at Halley - very different from Signy.
"When we arrived, I know now that all the base members from Halley do it
deliberately, they put on their stinkiest seal blubber-covered anoraks
and trousers, and it was like we were being invaded by Neanderthal men.
Because of course we were all in lounge suits and they came on and
wanted the bosun so they could get all their beer and whisky and so on.
It was completely different from Signy. When we had parties, everyone
would get dressed up and behave properly; it just appeared to me to be
much rowdier and rougher, but I suppose there were twice the number of
Fids there than there were at Signy. I think the thing that struck me
was the complete lack of ... There was no scenery to speak of. It was
just flat, apart from the edge of the shelf which was quite dramatic in
places, and no wildlife to speak of. It was very rare that you saw even
a bird. So I missed that and I missed the scenery of the South Orkneys,
but apart from that, when I did go out on expeditions, it was very
dramatic, going up onto the main Antarctic continent."
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/129.

Paul Burton: Cat Ballou and a cold exposure programme
"This may sound a bit silly now but it was a world of men and it was a
world of companionship. There were 26 men when I wintered at Halley,
which was big numbers, but we all depended on each other, because what
one man couldn’t do, another man could. We had 12 films for the year at
Halley in those days and 'Cat Ballou' (Jane Fonda) was one of them. I’ve
seen Cat Ballou at Halley 26 times. You could turn the sound off
completely and we did our own soundtrack. And what one Fid knew - if he
didn’t know it, someone else would step in and say the word. A sound
track by Fids, and it was just absolutely fantastic.

I always remember a funny story. There was a doctor at Halley, Iain
Leith. He was virtually straight out of medical school and he had got
his programme to do. He asked for three volunteers to sit in the lounge
with no heat on for five days, in clothing like we are wearing today,
cold drinks, cold food and he expected fantastic results. He went in
with us and every four hours he took blood samples, and every two hours
he would take heartbeat and chest and all things like that. One time it
was my turn to have a stethoscope on me and he was listening, and I put
my hand behind my back and I am tapping my back. He looks and he hears
this noise, and I’m tapping away, and he is saying ... Then he realised
what I was doing. He says [posh voice] ‘Oh’ and he was that cold, his
teeth were chattering, ‘Bloody hell, boy. You’ve spoilt it!’ He did
that programme, where we sat for a week, or 5 days, with cold food and
cold water, and he did one where we just sat under cover but outside.
Again I went in that with him. That was part of his programme while
he was down."
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/230.

Many thanks to all contributors to this Newsletter.

Registrations and email updates
As usual this newsletter is being sent out by email only, to 450
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). 423 people have now registered on Z-fids. If you have, your name
will be shown as a link on the appropriate year page(s).


9 Nov 2016
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