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.
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.
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.
For comparison, Donald Featherstone’s Sand Table advice from 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 …
Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN, Home Guard founding day 14 May 1940 / 2020