Donald Featherstone’s BBC radio talks 1962 1963


All we need to do is build a time machine and head back to the morning of Thursday the 19th April 1962 and tune in or listen in to “This is the BBC Home Service …” we could have heard Donald Featherstone on the radio.


DONALD FEATHERSTONE explains how a man of action can spend two years fighting the American Civil War in Southampton – and the South can win! He himself caused the Romans to lose the Punic War, and Napoleon to triumph at Waterloo.

Contributors / Unknown: Donald Featherstone

I doubt if a recording exists but  good news (from  a BBC archives email received today 1st December 2017) both scripts still exist, albeit I have been warned in variable quality,  at the BBC Written Archives at Caversham. I am having copies made and if transcribable, I  will discuss with John Curry whether (with suitable copyright / BBC permission) they could be reprinted in future.

1962 was a prolific period for Donald Featherstone. He published his first gaming book on War Games in 1962, around this time. He had also written  about wargames in Tackle Model Soldiers This Way (Stanley Paul, 1963).

According to his many obituaries, he had been wargaming as an adult since the mid 1950s and organised the first U.K. wargames tournament  in Southampton in 1961 with a national championship planned for 1963. He was involved with the UK side of The Wargames Digest around 1960 and set up Wargamers  Newsletter in 1962.

A year later in 1963 Don Featherstone was on the radio again and we could have tuned in to the programme TWO OF A KIND on the BBC Home Service (Basic) on Tuesday 15th October  at 9.05 am (and repeated on Thursday 17 October 1963 at 13.40). We would have heard Don as one of two speakers (hence the programme title “Two of a Kind”) on the theme of Models. The first speaker: Father’s Dolls by KATHLEEN BINNS
Playing with Soldiers by DONALD FEATHERSTONE
Introduced by presenter JACK SINGLETON.

This BBC genome website was based on old copies of the Radio Times.

From Battle Interview Peter Gilder interviewed by Donald Featherstone in 1978 Battle magazine, shown in / courtesy of Peter Gilder A Life in Wargaming website.

I came across this BBC Radio scripts link whilst searching online for an article or interview that Donald Featherstone wrote for She Magazine (a women’s magazine) around 1962. Peter Gilder was shown the She  magazine article about Don’s  wargames by his wife, and the rest is gaming history …

I wonder if anyone still has that 1962 She magazine edition, if that is the correct magazine in Gilder’s memory many years later?

I asked John Curry who knows Featherstone’s books well and neither this nor the BBC scripts has not been reprinted in any of the excellent Featherstone reprints by John  Curry.

Is it in some gamer’s scrapbook?

It seems rather improbable that Donald Featherstone should be writing in or be featured in a woman’s magazine like She Magazine. As a sports physiotherapist,  he had written a book on Sports Injuries in 1957 and later on dance injuries, Dancing Without Danger (1970/71) but I can think of no obvious link.

I have done a quick online search. Past editions of women’s magazines from 1962 seem pretty scarce on EBay and other old magazine sites, unlike the many hoarded back issues of men’s magazines on transport, modelling  and hobbies.

I have recently found an early press article or two about Featherstone which I will transcribe shortly. Donald Featherstone’s first book War Games was published in this period and as one of my favourite gaming books, it is good to recapture the early improvisational spirit of these games.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, 29/30 November 2017.



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