Last year saw the first Donald Featherstone memorial weekend. The idea came from Ron Miles, a contemporary of Don in the early days of wargaming. It was developed by Henry Hyde and Mark Freeth, and there is now an annual game at the Wargames Holiday Centre at Kingsclere, near Basingstoke, UK in memory of Don Featherstone.
But it is more than a gaming weekend. The event draws a number of gamers to play in the spirit of the early wargamers and a “jacket and tie” dinner is held on the Saturday evening – if only to prove that gamers do not always dress in black T-shirts! We have been fortunate to have Don’s friends Ron Miles, Charles Wesencraft and Chris Scott at both dinners.
This year we played operation Market Garden, September 1944, with the emphasis on the Arnhem/Oosterbeek area, but with an abstracted challenge for the British XXX Corps to “drive like hell” to relieve the airborne troops.
I was one of the XXX Corps players, and our challenge was to move our force across 28 feet of table on a 3 foot front, then a further 20 feet on a 6 foot front to reach the road bridge at Arnhem. This, without opposition, would take 25 game moves at road speed. Two opposed river crossings would – and did – hinder us. “Hell’s Highway” was abstracted, without any on-table support from the US Airborne, who were deemed to be holding the flanks.
Before XXX Corps managed to cross the second river we heard the cry “Oosterbeek has fallen”, which ruled out the plan for a crossing of the Rhine in support. By the time we began the final advance beyond Nijmegen with Irish and Grenadier Guards side by side, the Poles (landed south of the Rhine) had been eliminated and SS Panzer troops were rushing to join in the wholesale destruction of Sherman tanks.
We suffered from lousy dice, but not as bad as some of the British Airborne players, one of whom rolled ten consecutive ones. The odds of that are 60,466,176:1!
Here are some pictures from the weekend:
For more pictures, see here