Of Ice and Men: The Story of the British Antarctic Survey, 1943-73.

A comprehensive history of the first 30 years of BAS, originally known as FIDS (Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey), at first a naval exercise under the Admiralty. In effect it has been one very prolonged British expedition to West Antarctica, with emphasis on the Antarctic Peninsula and its islands.

p. 14: 1902 when Dr Andersson ran into Nordenskjöld: When fuel ran out they used seal blubber, and fished with hooks and lines made from brass buckles and seal skin, but for reading matter all they had were the labels on their painfully few tins.

p. 35-36, 1944-45, during Operation Tabarin: During winter the Port Lockroy Prattler appeared monthly and claimed to be the most southerly news-sheet in the world. It was the forerunner of a number of publications started by bases in later years, though none of them ever came up to the standard set by the really beautiful South Polar Times produced by Scott’s last expedition and lavishly illustrated by that great artist Dr. Edward Wilson.

p. 47-8, June 21, 1945: On Midwinter Day the first Hope Bay Howler appeared, edited by Back, containing news items and articles, and letters from other bases. To pinpoint how they saw themselves it carried a ‘sardonic’ advertisement:

Bright young man for the Antarctic. Must have knowledge of botany, zoology, ornithology, surveying, taxidermy, geology, oxometry, etc. German and French essential. Must be able to type, operate wireless set, light fires, clean drains, build houses and drive dogs. Sound knowledge of huntin’ shootin’ and fishin’ expected. Salary despicable, prospects nil. Please write and state any additional qualifications.

p. 53: As the year drew to a close everyone was increasingly anxious for news of the men coming south to replace them, particularly for some estimate of their date of arrival so that intelligent plans could be made. But unhappily an impenetrable cloud of secrecy prevailed. This almost total lack of communication from London caused considerable irritation, which was bad for morale….

p. 165: picture from Hope Bay in 1951/2 has several shelves of books.

p. 327-28: It is often suggested that the absence of women, and indeed of sex, must be a very real deprivation, but to most of the men it has little importance. They have to put it behind them and are wholly occupied by the life they are leading. It is unusual for the topic to arise, even in conversation.

Perhaps a major reason is the complete lack of stimulation. At some bases it has from time to time become fashionable to cover the walls with pin-ups. This may enable some to enjoy their fantasies, but often the men do not even want this, perhaps recognizing it as inappropriate in a barren world….

Fuchs goes on to argue that when women come to Antarctica there will be problems and it would be best for them to form their own single-sex communities. All fairly troglodytic for a book published in 1982.