A Small Spark Of Courage, Donald Featherstone’s War Games and Solo Wargaming

I noticed an interesting similarity of maps between A Small Spark Of Courage by D.A. Rayner, a 1959/ 1961 book mentioned by Donald Featherstone as the acknowledged basis of a scenario in a chapter of his Solo Wargaming and unacknowledged in his WW2 Rules and scenario of his 1962 War Games.

Map by Charles Green in Denys Rayner’s A Small Spark Of Courage

and close up of the map in War Games 1962 – the classic WW2 scenario ‘Tank and Infantry Action on the St James Road’.

The Plantation, Copse Hill, familiar names … Red Farm has moved position from the original Farabique. Other French place names have been changed.


Denys Arthur Rayner was a WW2 naval officer and ship designer who wrote mostly naval fiction.


Unusually for a naval officer Rayner wrote about tank warfare in The Small Spark of Courage (1959), titled Valor in US editions of the novel. Two further close up versions of the map are included in the book.

It is not so strange that Donald Featherstone should base a scenario on this book or map. He was of course a Tank Sergeant in the Royal Tank Regiment in WW2.

This Small Spark map led towards the WW2 scenario and those very familiar photographs of Airfix first version German Infantry and British (Infantry Combat Group) OOHO figures (photographed by Ken Baker) in Featherstone’s War Games (1962).

The Small Spark book is discussed in more detail as a scenario idea by Donald Featherstone in his book Solo Wargaming.

Second-hand copies of Rayner‘s book can be found online. Likewise, Donald Featherstone’s books are available second-hand online, although there are now affordable handy Featherstone reprints and books about Featherstone’s wartime experiences in the Royal Tank Regiment by John Curry, published as part of the History Of Wargaming Project.

Author’s Note:

Endnote: Donald Featherstone was influenced in his early gaming by H.G. Wells’ Little Wars. I noticed that one other famous wargaming fictional scenario maps is loosely based on real places, such as The Battle Of Hook’s Farm, the classic scenario in H.G. Wells’ Little Wars (1913).


Blog posted by Mark ManofTIN on 12 February 2023.


8 thoughts on “A Small Spark Of Courage, Donald Featherstone’s War Games and Solo Wargaming”

  1. A splendid find! Fascinating a naval officer should write about tanks indeed. I currently have Donald Featherstone’ s Modern warfare rules open beside me as I write. I have been rereading them ( thanks to inspiration from Roger in Norway) as l intend to try them out with some 54mm figures very soon. I need a quiet day in the house when the dining room table is free…


    1. I will Post Script tonight to the blog post with the Author’s Note where he explains why he wrote about tanks not ships. Rayner mentions in the acknowledgements why he “a sailor in their ranks” hung out with Charlie Squadron 3rd Kings Own Hussars thanks to a friend Captain Peter Cannon and Lt Col D B Wormald DSO MC And Bar Of the 3rd King’s Own Hussars.


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