5 September 2013

Rainy afternoons at the Midland Library with Donald Featherstone...

Quick search of my book shelves this morning
 It is with a genuine sadness that I read last night of the passing of Donald Featherstone.  Though never having the good fortune to meet or even speak to him, it is a measure of the influence that one person can have on an impressionable young soul half a world away to whom playing with toy soldiers was just about to become a passion he will chase for a life-time.

Growing up in the working class suburb of Midland in the 1970's the local library was very much the place I went to discover the wonderful books, stories and characters that lay within the pages of these tens of thousands of books.  One afternoon early in my exploration I came across the section 793.9 (Duey Decimal system was wonderful back then!) about 16 inches of the most amazing books a young boy could come across...how to play with model soldiers in actual battles and campaigns.

Donald Feartherstone, Charles Grant, Bruce Quarrie and Phil Barker became the new prophets Matthew, Mark, Luke and John for this young man and I borrowed those "Gospels" out of the library on every opportunity!

I think the greatest aspect of his writing in my opinion was that I could understand what he was teaching me, I could play games that way, I could build up an army it that fashion and I too could play a wonderful campaign with characters, plots and histories woven with a richness one could take as far as your imagination desired.

I also believe that we wargamers also travel so well and seem to get on with other gamers we meet from all over the globe because our origins into the hobby, at least for gentlemen of my vintage, were so similar.  We read the books by Donald Featherstone and company, saw the wonderful figures of Peter Gilder, Phil Robinson and David Mason in the truly inspirational early issues of Miniature Wargames and Wargames Illustrated and dared to dream.  We went to clubs where there were always some older gamers from the UK who had migrated to Australia and who regaled us with stories about their weekends at The Enchanted Cottage or the time they were rolled up on the flank by Keith Benson etc.

For me, reading "Solo Wargaming" on the lounge at the library, rain dripping down the foggy windows of the Midland Library and imagining how much fun it would be to be marching to attack a local Hill fort at the head of my miniature garrison just like the pictures in his book, are as vivid a memory now as they were over 35 years ago.

I am guessing that Mr Featherstone wouldnt mind that a single bit!  Travel well.


  1. Nicely put indeed..... 793.9, but also (and my memory is shaky) 942 (WWII) and 355.1 (uniforms).... happy days....

  2. One of the greats, and an inspiration to us all. He did his duty to his country, lived to see our present golden age of wargaming, and departed this world knowing how much he was appreciated. RIP, Don.

  3. We lost not only a great writer but a very brave soldier too. I doubt he would ever have concured on either point.

    A very sad loss.


  4. You are now in a better place Don rest in peace. A small tear on this one Carlo. On On to the next battle as would be the call.