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Gaming The Home Guard with Sand Tables 1941

Some of my Home Guard gaming resources, originals and reprints

Home Guard Manual 1941

This reprint of an original has an Appendix on Training using a Sand Table, something familiar to readers of early Donald Featherstone Wargames books after his experience of training with them at Bovington Camp in his Tank Regiment days during WW2.

“Sections and men represented by pegs”, not model soldiers at the time – 1941

If you want the Answers or ‘Notes to Solutions’ look at the end of the Post.

‘Britain 1940’ as an ImagiNation?

Training the Home Guard 1940 and Gaming the Home Guard 2020

The fact that Britain wasn’t invaded in 1940/41 keeps this tabletop game of war as one of “what if?” historical fantasy, rather than gaming people’s difficult wartime lived experiences.

Gaming The Home Guard and the early war period of Operation Sea Lion, preparing for the invasion of Britain that thankfully never happened, is a different matter from many WW2 games. The Home Guard / Sealion type game are in many ways an ‘Imagi-Nation’, a fiction of Britain in 1940 and 1941, based on or inspired by historical events. So too was Dad’s Army. So too are most nostalgia filled model railways of this steam era.

What happened got four years from 1940 to stand down in late 1944 was effectively a series of mostly realistic gaming scenarios or live action role play, played with a deadly earnest and a determined purpose. These are set out in Home Guard training manuals (and often form the episodes of Dad’s Army).

Dad’s Army at the same time on TV also gives a key to how it is or was possible to explore this invasion scenario in a respectful but imaginative way. The show also gave the strong impression of the boredom, bravery and occasional buffoonery of Home Guard service life. Cartoonist (Carl) Giles found it so in his contemporary wartime cartoons of Home Front and Home Guard life, worth studying for his 1940s era ‘character types’ of old soldiers and Blimps .

The training against other Home Guard patrols and regular troops also gives some interesting possibilities for “non lethal warfare”.

Adapting rules from training exercises to the Tabletop should prove interesting. These are similar to the Scouting Wide Games that I have also been exploring on the Tabletop, working with fellow blogger and Tabletop gamer Alan Gruber, Tradgardmastre of the Duchy of Tradgardland who is also exploring 54mm Home Guard based games.

Home Guard 1941 Sand Table – the answers or notes to the Sand Table training game solution.

Sand Tables for training seem familiar?

One famous British wargames author and military historian seems to have spent his early postwar gaming years in the 1950s and 1960s recreating his wartime ‘miniatures gaming’ army training on his own sand table – Donald Featherstone.

Featherstone’s sand table with tanks, WW2 rules section War Games 1962

For comparison, Donald Featherstone’s Sand Table advice from War Games 1962

Donald Featherstone on sandtables, War Games 1962

Featherstone on how to make your own Sand Table for gaming, War Games 1962

Somewhere inside my head and in a now demolished house in Southampton, in a wistful end of The House at Pooh Corner kind of way, a former Tank Sergeant and a retired Brigadier General are forever playing toy soldiers on a large Sand Table in a vanished games attic of our dreams …

Donald Featherstone, War Games, 1962

Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN, Home Guard founding day 14 May 1940 / 2020

Author: 26soldiersoftin

Hello I'm Mark Mr MIN, Man of TIN. Based in S.W. Britain, I'm a lifelong collector of "tiny men" and old toy soldiers, whether tin, lead or childhood vintage 1960s and 1970s plastic figures. I randomly collect all scales and periods and "imagi-nations" as well as lead civilians, farm and zoo animals. I enjoy the paint possibilities of cheap poundstore plastic figures as much as the patina of vintage metal figures. Befuddled by the maths of complex boardgames and wargames, I prefer the small scale skirmish simplicity of very early Donald Featherstone rules. To relax, I usually play solo games, often using hex boards. Gaming takes second place to making or convert my own gaming figures from polymer clay (Fimo), home-cast metal figures of many scales or plastic paint conversions. I also collect and game with vintage Peter Laing 15mm metal figures, wishing like many others that I had bought more in the 1980s ...

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