Neville Mann died on the 15th August 1963. Whilst dog sledging on sea ice at Halley Bay an unexpected storm blew up and Neville lost contact with Gordon Mallinson who was driving another dog team on the ice. Gordon searched for him but, confident that Neville would have found his way back to base, returned to find Neville was still out. Search parties were sent out into the mounting blizzard to no avail. When the storm abated the sea-ice had been blown out to sea and clear water lapped at the foot of the ice cliffs.
Dick Worsfold, writing from Canada, says that "he and Maurice Sumner had travelled down to the Falkland Islands on the John Biscoe which left six weeks before the Kista Dan and had undertaken a water source survey for the boarding school at Darwin. John Poltock, the headmaster, had requested help through the High Commissioner's office and it befell on us to do the work. We finished it in time to go back to Port Stanley to write up the results and accomplished the trip in an old Land Rover (which was required back in town) with no brakes and no starter. It was an exciting trip, to say the least, and I still do not know how we managed to do it over non-existent roads. Upon reaching town battered and bruised, we had to find someone to drive it to the office because none of us had a Falkland driving licence!
"Neville and I got the chance of a lifetime to spend an afternoon on the SS Great Britain which was still in Sparrow Cove. Neville took an attractive local girl called Joan Fenton along for the ride. She was very much taken with his Greek God persona. I have a photograph of the two of them on the old ship in my office. Neville had an engaging personality which made him popular wherever he went. When were in Port Stanley over the Christmas period, we stayed with Ma Harris. This wonderful old soul had boarded Fids for years during stopovers and was full of tales. She had no teeth at all and loved to chat in the Chilean Patois over the shared phone line with her friends in "the camp". Neville and I were able to reconstruct a gag initially played by Lofty Tyson and gleefully related to us be Ma Harris. On Christmas morning Sadie Clements found a beautifully wrapped box on her doorstep. It contained one of Ma Harris' chickens. Unfortunately when Sadie picked it up it squawked and so without opening it she yelled for Clem to take charge. He had little trouble in locating the culprits. He was not amused by the chicken's droppings all around the kitchen.
Photos of Nev are rare as after the aborted trip to cross the hinge zone after the Kista Dan had left, winter arrived quickly and we spent it indoors. The earliest days of the following spring were when Nevillle's accident occurred.
I have scanned a photo I took of Nev in the survey office of the IGY hut during the first winder. Not the best quality but the only one I have. I can email the file if required."
Nevill Mann was brought up near Goldaming in Surrey where he attended Ottershaw Grammar School. A number of his friends from those days and his brother David Mann have contacted us following an article in the Surrey Advertiser at the beginning of April 2009 and told us about his ability in drama, music and sport.
Ottershaw School Old Boys generosity
In an exceptional act of generosity the Old Boys of Neville's school, Ottershaw, who were meeting for an annual lunch last Friday, raised £415 which they have donated to the British Antarctic Monument Trust. Prompted by an Old Boy Angus Palmer who spotted the article, Dennis Williams wrote to say, "Each year I organise a Lunch for Old Boys who were at Ottershaw with me (1949-1955). We always have a raffle and the proceeds go to our OB Society funds. This year I intend to donate the proceeds to your memorial fund, and I confidently predict that there will be no dissenters. Everyone attending the Lunch will have been at School with Neville at some stage, and so the gesture is entirely appropriate. Ottershaw (the first state boarding school) lived from 1948-1980, but the School spirit is very much alive within the OB's Society.
Busbridge, a friendly and caring community
We also heard from Sheelagh Brown who described the friendliness of society in Busbridge in the '60s. She said, "I have just read the article on the Get Surrey internet about the memorial planned for Antarctic research victims, including Neville Sanders Mann. It sounds so worthwhile. Although I did not know him personally, I do remember the Mann family as they were very much part of the Busbridge community in Godalming – where I grew up and went to the local grammar school etc All the very best for the appeal. Godalming (especially in the 1960’s) was always a very friendly and caring community – and there will be lots of people who will want to ensure that Neville Mann has a fitting memorial. With best wishes, Sheelagh (Brown)(An Old Godhelmian)"
Brenda Tuxbury (neé Black) who now lives in the US said, "Neville Mann was a close neighbour of mine growing up. We attended the same church, school and Youth Club. It was a pleasure to have known him. He was one of the nicest people you could wish to meet."
We have also heard from Brian Oxborough and his wife Pat (nee Beverton) who knew Neville as a neighbour, school friend and in the local Youth Club. They, with Brenda, have donated very generously to the fund.
David Mann remembers
David has written to say that Neville and his elder brother Bob were born before the war, he and his sister Susan, the youngest, were born after the war. He writes, "Neville and I were very close. We shared interests in vintage cars and climbing. Ours was a happy family with loving parents. We were a religious family and Sunday church was a regular thing. Grace was said before all meals."
Out of the four of us Neville was the talented one, he writes. Neville was a member of the local Busbridge Youth Club, and played clarinet in a jazz band, The Black Jacks that also sang as a male harmony choir. The Black Jacks put together a show combining acting, comedy, singing and playing. They entered for the All Surrey talent competition held in London. "They won."
Neville was a member of the British Sub-Aqua Club and went diving off the South Coast. He was also a keen climber, as noted by John Richardson another school colleague. He climbed in North Wales and in the Dolomites with German friends, Klaus and Wieland Sussmilch. He also joined an expedition to Spitsbergen.
He was a keen photographer and something of an artist. David says he could caricature people. He also thinks he edited the Halley Comet (the base magazine) in 1963.
David had a particular bond with Neville over his love for old cars. Neville bought and renovated a 1929 Triumph Super Seven, a rare car that was the first production car to have hydraulic brakes. David remembers helping Neville to get the engine running "after weeks of work."
"And," he goes on "he had a wacky sense of humour. He was my hero."
"I still miss him now."
Neville Mann at Halley Bay. Memorial cross Halley Bay
Antarctic Place Name in honour of Neville Mann
Following a campaign by the British Antarctic Monument Trust, it is gratifying to note that a new feature identified from satellite observations on Luitpold Coast, close to Halley Bay, has been named after Neville Mann.
The official entry in The Gazetteer of the British Antarctic Territory states:
Mann Ice Stream, centred at 76 degrees 48’ 55’’S, 30 degrees 14’ 40’’W, is an ice stream flowing west into the Weddell Sea on the Luitpold Coast. Named in commemoration of Neville Mann (1940-1963), who worked for BAS as a surveyor out of Halley Bay 1962-1963.He died in a tragic accident in 1963 whilst on a dog training exercise on sea ice, when an unexpected storm blew up and he lost contact with his colleague.