Today is Donald Featherstone’s birthday (born 20 March 1918, died 2013).
This is one of two birthday posts I have done for Featherstone’s birthday, the other being on my Man of TIN Blog Two about his views on the ethics of playing at war on the tabletop. https://manoftinblogtwo.wordpress.com/2022/03/20/happy-104th-birthday-donald-featherstone-in-the-60th-anniversary-year-of-war-games-1962/
60 years ago this May 1962, the 44 year old WW2 veteran Donald Featherstone published his first book on War Games.
War Games was published with the background of the Cold War; my late Dad had recently finished amongst the last National Service men as conscription in Britain was coming to an end. The Cuban Missile crisis was only a few months away in October 1962.
In 1962 Featherstone’s own war service as a young Tank NCO in the Royal Armoured Corps in Italy was only 17 years behind him. Since WW2 he had established a successful business as a sports physiotherapist.
The Courier’s Timeline of Historical Miniatures Gaming has an interesting link to this first May 1962 publication, a copy inscribed by Don Featherstone to fellow Southampton gamer Tony Bath.
Cut this page out and stick this in your copy for inspiration … “Hazardous career”?!?
There is an affordable paperback reprint available from John Curry’s History Of Wargaming Project. Second hand copies of the original 1962 hardback and reprints can be found for reasonable prices online.
I’m sure many gamers cut their teeth on this first War Games volume. I did but it was 15 to 20 years later before I found this first book as a youngster (by then second edition, reprinted many times) in the adult section of my local branch library. I still have this exact well thumbed copy, bought when the library cleared old stock in the 1990s.
I also have a tatty 1962 edition picked up quite cheaply several years ago.
When did you first read or encounter this book?
Other tabletop gaming events of 1962 from the Courier Timeline.
Added highlights to this 1962 list should be the arrival of an increasingly varied range of cheap Airfix figures from 1959 onwards, according to Featherstone, “the latest and possibly most vital contribution to the wargames world”.
My tatty 1962 edition lists the existing and following figures to arrive in 1962:
Part of what piqued my interest when first borrowing this book from the branch library was seeing these older first version Airfix figures, ones that I had a few of, in use in this ‘grown up’ gaming book. These photographs said to me: I can do this, I don’t have flats or Spencer Smiths, but I have Airfix.
Most of the Wargamers’ Newsletter has now been scanned and is available at https://www.fourcats.co.uk/mags/
What are your first or early memories of this ground-breaking book?
Donald Featherstone’s radio talks
Transcripts have been passed to John Curry for future publication; BBC Written Archives do not allow for easy publication on a blog. Some of the early sections of War Games is roughly there:
Thanks Don Featherstone for providing so much inspiration, distraction and fellowship through your “hazardous career” in writing this book and many others.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 20 March / May 2022
Previous posts: Featherstone’s centenary anniversary 2018: