I cannot have a blog without paying homage to Donald Featherstone. I must have been about 11 years old when my brother brought home from Southampton library a copy of ‘Wargames’. Up until that point I had fought my battles using Airfix soldiers and marbles (indoors) or clods of flying earth (outdoors). ‘Wargames’ put an end to all that.
As I read the book and all the subsequent volumes (Advanced Wargames and Wargames Campaigns) it soon became apparent that Southampton was something of a wargamer’s ground zero. Not only was it home to Minifigs and the Wessex Wargames Society but the great man himself was a resident (at 69 Hill Lane I recall – it isn’t there anymore though). J joined the WWS and eventually was introduced to him as an aspiring figure painter. I first started by painting – somewhat crudely – some ECW cuirassiers for him and eventually progressed to the point where I became his part time helper on Saturday morning. My tasks were numerous but mainly involved sorting out the packing and posting of all his books that had been ordered by the readers of the famous ‘Wargamer’s Newsletter’. So if you have a signed copy of any them from the first half of the 70’s, chances are it passed through my hands!
Mr Featherstone (this was when young people knew their place) was fantastic. Friendly, funny, generous and a great supporter. He had a study lined with military books and hung up behind the door was his old battledress and beret of the RTR. Even at a young age I could tell he was immensely proud of his service. I also used to meet the wargames great and good passing through – Chris Duffy, Paddy Griffiths, David Chandler, Neville Dickenson to name but a few. It was heady stuff for a young lad.
Eventually I moved on to finding apparently better things to do on a Saturday but not before I was invited to a number of the weekday wargames nights. Read ‘Solo Wargames’ and see the pictures of the colonial setup. I can claim to have been there.
Don – I salute you.