Model Battlefield Pathe Newsreel

Movement with magnets as remembered by Donald Featherstone at Bovington Camp?

Donald Featherstone in War Games (1962) mentions that he as “the author recalls, with some pleasure, a fascinating hut at Bovington Camp, Dorset, in the Second World War, where miniature tanks were made to move over realistic countryside, being made mobile by the movement of magnets under the table.” (P.16)

Donald Featherstone may be referring to this sort of set up, shown here simulating gunnery practice on Salisbury Plain complete with tiny Stonehenge:

i missed this when it was first shown on the Vintage Wargaming blog

Including an anonymous comment on the Vintage Wargaming blog: “When I was in the Canadian Army in the 1980s, we used something like that canvas panorama for practicing calling in artillery fire missions. It was called a “smoke table” and as we practiced using map and compass while observing the canvas field to give fire orders, a litte oil heater would puff smoke up through the hessian to show where the rounds had “landed”. Nothing else moved, though. Nowadays it is all done on a computer, of course.”

Previously I have spotted a model sand table or instructional layout in a 1940s Army / ABCA training film posted on my Man of TIN blog:

Interesting bit of film footage!

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, January 2022

4 thoughts on “Model Battlefield Pathe Newsreel”

  1. I agree re Potty Time. Also reminds me of plastic insects with magnets underneath which l used to trick folk reading the newspaper etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Neat insect trick!
      Makes you wonder if Bentine (the part Peruvian Goon) saw such a magnet training table in his military service days in order to have created the Pottytime historical re-enactments that I loved as a child.
      Bentine has a great autobiography / set of radio talks, sometimes repeated on Radio 4 Extra, Michael Bentine “The Reluctant Jester Strikes Back” (recorded at The Maltings Arts Centre, St Albans).
      Bentine’s Potty Time – That’s a set of DVDs to track down one day. I have a Bentine paperback book for children with a NE Frontier story / scenario, set as you might guess in the fictionalised country of Pottistan, no less.
      The Goons team are a rich source for gamers. My late dad disliked or dismissed the silliness of the Goons in the mid 50s when he first heard it, until he had done his National Service when he understood the “service humour” / satire. I heard them first when repeated on the BBC radio in the 1980s.
      Then there’s Spike Milligan’s toy soldier collecting (elsewhere on my blog), wartime worms-eye- view of his WW2 autobiography books … and Peter Sellers’ various ImagiNations comedies. The Mouse That Roared, Prisoner Of Zenda remake etc.
      Rich stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

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