20th March 1918 is an important date in WW1 anniversary terms as the shock troops of German storm troopers stood trained, in position and poised ready to roll through Allied lines on the dawn of 21 March 2018 – Operation Michael, The Kaiserschlact or the Kaiser’s Day.
Thousands of British and Allied troops were surrounded, killed or taken prisoner. My eighteen year old Maternal Great Uncle serving with the British Fifth Army was killed several days later in this confused fighting. Only stubborn Allied resistance by scratch regiments like his and logistics – the Royal Naval Blockade of Germany starving it of war materials – saw this German knockout blow rapidly run out of fuel and men.
Events of the Russian Revolution in 1917 through to the 3rd March 1918 – the Treaty of Brest Litovsk between Bolshevik Russia and Germany – released thousands of German troops from the Eastern Front back to the Western Front.
A more joyous event – Donald Frederick Featherstone was born on 20th March 1918.
** Some newspaper obituaries have him listed as born on 12 March 1918 but other newspaper obituaries and his death certificate listing says he was born on 20th March 1918.
That makes Tuesday 20th March 2018 the late Donald Featherstone’s Centenary anniversary or #Featherstone100.
As he came into the world, Allied victory in the Great War stood in doubt. He often said in interviews, that he chose the Tank Regiment on enlistment in 1939 because of all his family stories about the slaughter of Poor Bloody Infantry in the trenches.
How can we best celebrate in our own small gaming ways the Centenary and life of a man who changed my hobby life – man and boy – for the better, as he did for many gamers of a certain age?
Like many others, I owe a lot to Donald Featherstone. Many were the warm and richly deserved tributes and obituaries on Don’s death aged 95 in 3 September 2013.
I’m glad a Featherstone gaming weekend happens each year with Don’s lucky dice as the annual prize. http://www.wargameshc.co.uk/event/donald-featherstone-tribute-weekend-chancellorsville-march-23-25th-inc-2018/
My best Featherstone moment this year was tracking down at the BBC archives and receiving a PDF of the almost illegible typed and hand annotated talk scripts of two Donald Featherstone radio talks. As John remarked, I may have been the first person to read these since Don Featherstone in 1962/63. I have passed the copyrighted transcripts to John Curry for future use and publication through the History of Wargaming Project.
I have also been tracking Don Featherstone through the newspaper archives
How should we best celebrate the Centenary of Donald F. Featherstone?
1. Read one of Don’s many books?
Plenty of military history titles as well as his wargaming books to choose from. Reprints are available through the History of Wargaming Project set up by John Curry. http://wargaming.co
2. Play a Featherstone inspired game?
Plenty of scenarios in his books across all periods. Plenty of his simple “Back of postcard” rules on my blog or in his books.
3. Watch the great little short video with Don and John Curry on YouTube
4 Listen to a podcast by Don about his WW2 experiences from Bovington Tank Museum
How amazing that the author of the handtyped 1960s Wargamers Newsletter and BBC Radio talks should be recording a podcast and only missed the games blogging age by a few years.
5. Do a Featherstone themed conversion such as finishing my Airfix footballer to saloon girl conversion?
Don was famous for his homecasting or his conversion of one available figure into many others.
This inspired many others and does still today including Rod MacArthur who had the privilege of gaming and figure making with Donald Featherstone and Tony Bath from 1960 onwards https://rodwargaming.wordpress.com/about/
#MARCH-ing bands aside, my Featherstone footballer turned wildwest showgirl is my current unfinished work in progress. #MARCH
Arguably every gaming day is a Featherstone day for many gamers, every day that we use a version of his rules, read his books or do our hobby thing, especially if you were inspired by Donald Featherstone’s books out of the library as a child, we celebrate his life, his hobby and his work.
What might you do to celebrate Donald Featherstone’s Centenary or #Featherstone100?
I’d love to hear your #Featherstone100 plans or your #bestFeatherstonemoment through your blogs or my comments page.
“The pleasure does not begin and end with the actual playing of the war-game. There are many pleasant hours to be spent in making model soldiers, painting them, constructing terrain, carrying out research into battles, tactics and uniforms …” Donald Featherstone, War Games 1962. Wise words indeed!
Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, 3 March 2018 (Centenary of the Treaty of Brest Litovsk)