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Entry 8

Port Lockroy


Richard, Saritha and Luke at Port Lockroy

Our last day of filming has just ended Port Lockroy, the original 1944 hut build as part of the secret war-time Operation Tabarin. About 5 weeks ago it was also the first day's filming for Luke and Saritha and it's a moment for both of them to reflect on what has been a long trip (by filming standards).

By the time we arrive at Lockroy it's almost 3pm and there's not much light left for filming. The winter nights are closing in fast and while it doesn't get dark until about 5.30pm, the light will have effectively gone for outdoor filming not too long after 4pm. So, we have to move fast.

One of our tasks is to film Dave Birkett in the Radio Room. We're trying to recreate a little of the flavour of June 1944 as I'm doing a story for BBC News to broadcast in the week of the 60th Anniversary of D Day. Back then, the team here at Lockroy heard the news on their wireless. Rather later in proceedings Dave and I realise that we're short of a crucial fact. In his book 'Of Ice and Men' Sir Vivian Fuchs refers to them 'hearing' the news. Too late, we realise the ambiguity in his account. Were they listening to the BBC World Service, as we had assumed? Did they get the news in wireless communications with the Falklands. Was it Morse Code? Confidence crumbles and by the time we start the interview we have doubts even that the BBC World Service existed. Worse, the only Morse Code that Dave knows is 'SOS' which makes a less than convincing re-enactment of the dramatic moment the news reached Lockroy.

We hastily rewrite our plans and refer only to the Lockroy occupants getting the news in the wireless room - the rest will have to be scripted back in the edit suite.

One thing hasn't changed. Back in 1944 the first newspapers with stories of the War in France reached Port Lockroy on the first end-of-winter relief ship in October. As we close the door in mid-April 2004, we can be pretty certain that the next ship, and newspapers, to call in here will also arrive next October. This is still a dark and forbidding place for most of the Southern Winter.

So from the hut it's back to the ship and off northwards towards Drakes Passage. Pass the Phenegan.