Halley Bay 25th Anniversary Reunion - 1981

To mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Halley Bay in 1956, a reunion dinner was held on Saturday 5 September 1981, at the Europa Lodge Hotel, West Bromwich. Out of the 350 men who had wintered at the base up to 1980, 109 attended the reunion.

A message of good wishes was received from David Dalgliesh, the leader of the Advance Party in 1956, who unfortunately could not be present because he was in hospital for an eye operation. Telegrams and messages were also received from a number of people who could not be present. Guests, who included Sir Vivian and Lady Fuchs, brought the total attendance to 180.

The following signal was sent to the 1981 wintering party at Halley:

"From all ex-Halley fids. As this year is the 25th anniversary of the founding of Halley station, a reunion for ex-Halley men and their guests is being held the weekend 5 September. 176 people will be attending. Sir Vivian Fuchs will present the Fuchs Medal to Jack Scotcher. We will be toasting you on Saturday evening. Best regards from all."

The following reply was received:

"The 1981 wintering personnel of Halley would like to send their best wishes to all ex-Halley Fids at the reunion to mark Halley's 25th year. Special congratulations to Jack on receiving the Fuchs Medal. Hope you aren't missing the ice-chipping too much. It looks as if this year has been a good one for Halley, with the AIS programme successfully begun and the future of the base assured. We look forward to seeing you in January, hopefully at Mobster Creek. Very best wishes to you all from a sunny Halley."

Signatures were collected on a card which would later be framed and accompany a suitable presentation to be sent to the base.

During the afternoon an interesting slide show was held, illustrating different periods in the base's history; the informative and entertaining speakers were Dave Limbert, Sam Samuel, Dave "Gonk" Hoy, Ken Lax and Peter Jenkins. Andy Smith spoke on scientific achievements and Alan Smith described plans for the next Halley rebuild. The talks were followed by films of the IGY Advance Party and of "Operation John Biscoe".

A display of photographs was on show. On sale were picture postcards of Halley each with a 4p BAT stamp (depicting C.A. Larsen and the Jason) cancelled with the Halley Bay frank on 6 January 1981 and bearing a special cachet "Halley Geophysical Observatory 1956-1981". All proceeds would go to the BAS Club Disaster Fund.*

The dinner was held at 8pm. The menu, which included wine was: Seafood Cocktail or Soup of the Day; Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding with a selection of vegetables; Charlotte Russe or Sherry Trifle; Coffee. A menu card, signed by those present, was later sent to David Dalgliesh.

After the Loyal Toast, proposed by the Master of Ceremonies, Nick Mathys, had been drunk, David Limbert rose to propose the toast to Absent Friends. The only member of the first wintering party to be present, he recalled how he had been recruited to be the expedition's meteorologist. All those comrades from Antarctic days who had not been able to come to the reunion were remembered, including those who had lost their lives at Halley. Alan "Dad" Etchells proposed the toast to Halley Bay. Sir Vivian Fuchs then paid tribute to the way Jack Scotcher has rallied and inspired his companions at Halley following the tragic death of Miles Mosley, before presenting him with the Fuchs Medal. Jack, in accepting the reward, said that it was an honour not just for him but for all the other base members who had given him their loyal support.

After the dinner, the celebrations were continued over a drink in the bars, and an enjoyable and memorable time was had by all. Our thanks to all who helped in the organisation of the function, to the hotel staff for their friendly service, and to all the Halley men and their guests who came along and made it all a success. Let us hope that Halley continues to thrive in the future as it has over the last quarter century, and that even more can come to the next reunion, whenever that may be.

* A total of £133.84 was raised.

Report by Andy Smith, published in the BAS Club Newsletter No. 10 (Christmas 1981).

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