Featherstone100 – Donald Featherstone Centenary 20 March 2018

 

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March 1918 Late War German Infantry in 15mm by Peter Laing from my collection.

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.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring_Offensive

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Michael

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.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Featherstone_(wargamer)

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/

#bestFeatherstonemoment

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.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/donald-featherstones-bbc-radio-talks-1962-1963/

I have also been tracking Don Featherstone through the newspaper archives

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/donald-featherstone-tabletop-generals-daily-herald-article-march-21-1961/

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Daily Herald March 21 1961 – almost a nice 43rd birthday present!

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

http://tankmuseum.org/download?id=41236

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?

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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/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/11/donald-featherstones-unusual-take-on-casualties-and-campaigns

 

 

 

 

#MARCH-ing bands aside, my Featherstone footballer turned wildwest showgirl is my current unfinished work in progress. #MARCH

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/21/fembruary-post-no-4-a-womans-right-to-vote-and-serve-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!

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The very library book that started it all for me – used in my Airfix ACW game last year.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, 3 March 2018 (Centenary of the Treaty of Brest Litovsk)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featherstone 1963 elementary WW2 rules

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Vintage Airfix 8th Army versus Airfix  Desert Warriors on the arid terrain of my portable ‘Heroscape’ hex game board. 

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Stephen Briddon, one of my blog readers, asked about an ‘elementary ‘ set of Donald Featherstone simple WW2 or Moderns rules that I had mentioned. These were first published in a chapter in his 1963 book, Tackle Model Soldiers This Way.

They prove an interesting comparison with his War Games published the year before in 1962. He keeps to the same periods, Ancients, Horse and Musket and WW2 Modern.

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“It should not be thought that the only types of war games are those for which elementary rules are given here, that is for battles in the ancient oeriod, horse and musket period and the modern game. There are many war-gamers throughly enjoying games which involve redskins and settlers, naval wargames  …”

 

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The Simple WW2 rules.

“The easiest and cheapest method of fighting modern combat seems to be by using Airfix figures (these come in British and German infantry, plus British 8th Army and German Afrika Korps). By using a combination of these figures it is possible to end up with adequate machine-gun teams, anti-tank guns, whilst mortars are not too difficult to fabricate.”

Simple times and irresistible enthusiasm …

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There are some interesting differences and simplifications in these simple WW2 rules. Here modern troops are based in threes and rifles fire  in threes for example, rather than firing in a volley of five men as Featherstone usually does in his ‘horse and musket rules’ here and elsewhere in his WW2 rules.

Order of firing is an interesting idea here as well, useful for solo games.

In short, a lovely short inspirational chapter full of enthusiasm for the hobby. Hopefully it created lots of converts for the hobby!

It is a good short summary of his earlier book War Games, designed to create a cross market from one hobby / readership of toy of model soldier collectors to another of wargaming.

I know that Donald Featherstone’s 1962 War Games has been recently reprinted or available as  an ebook for a new generation of gamers by John Curry. I’m not sure if John Curry has reprinted these 1963 simple rules elsewhere in his Featherstone reprints.

I posted sections from another of these simple cross readership efforts,  a guest  chapter in Henry Harris’ book How to Go Collecting Model Soldiers, first published by PSL in 1969. https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/24/simplest-featherstone-rules-ever/

A short set of rules influenced by but  almost simpler than H.G. Wells’ Little Wars:

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https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/19/airfix-british-redcoat-infantry-1960/

The whole of Donald Featherstone’s Tackle Model Soldiers This Way book  anyway  is worth tracking down on second hand book sites.

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Thanks again, Donald Featherstone!

Posted by Mark, Mr MIN Man of TIN blog, October 2016.