Friday, 4 June 2021

A Very Sad Day

 Today I was going to do an update post on my workbench then it was with disbelief and great sadness I read on the Wargames Illustrated page of the unexpected death of Duncan Macfarlane.

Like many in the hobby I have known Duncan for many years and would like to call him friend.

My first encounter with him was when he travelled with Peter Gilder to the old Redcar club to take scalps for the WRG society championship - I would have been around 17 and was confronted by Duncan’s early medieval Welsh - big units of 48 figure welsh spears - almost immovable objects. I lost as to be expected and over all the intervening years I don’t believe Duncan ever lost his keenness for competitive Wargaming. 

We met him regularly after that at various shows and from the 1980’s a lot more as Gordon, Lee and I started to put on various demo games, in fact Duncan accompanied us on our hike around Tewkesbury and over Newark for the games that were to follow.

There were many attendances at his house in Lovers Lane at Newark for photo sessions and when accompanied by a sleepover I got very little sleep as most of the night was spent browsing through his vast collection of books.

A knowledgeable, charming and disarming individual he was great company and many a social evening was spent in Newark on our visits. One one occasion when he found I was to travel to London for a conference he encouraged my to travel down the day before to catch up and have a chat. A hot day we visited a number of pubs and somehow on each one we managed to miss the serving times for food..

I don’t recall much else until 5.30 the next morning when I woke in my hotel room still fully clothed and with around an hour before I got the train to London, I managed to shower get changed and make my way for the train. I just about managed to survive the conference after drinking copious amounts of coffee and having breakfast. 

I guess in some ways he was mildly eccentric but his very nature made it all very acceptable, when he published Wargames Illustrated he somehow talked me into doing an index both by article and author and after the first 244 issues I decided enough was enough and I think he bought it off me for a couple of pints. 

And so the memories continue, Warcon, Sheffield Triples nights out and so on - his wit, was regularly missed by many and it’s so unfortunate that many gamers of today will be oblivious to the contributions and changes he has made to the hobby. Even possibly the instigator of having the hobby accepted as a mainstream pastime with the publication of Miniature Wargames.

It was a pleasure to have known him and the circle of friends to sit and tell our war stories to gets ever smaller 


ronniec said...

A sad day indeed, Graham. I never met him but got so much pleasure from his fantastic contributions to the hobby. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.

marinergrim said...

A very sad day indeed. Big shoes that may never be filled.

Extrabio47 said...

Yes, a sad day. Another sad day for our hobby.

I subscribed to WI from the first issue until well after Duncan left the helm. I still have every one, and as we know, a number of the covers became classics. It was a marvelous magazine, and something to look forward to each month.

I never knew Duncan, being on the wrong side of the pond, but in my mind, he belonged to that rarified pantheon that includes names such as Gilder, Grant, and Featherstone. And mildly eccentric? Aren’t we all?

The hobby’s flag flies at half mast today, and the lights are a bit dimmer. Rest In Peace, Duncan, and Godspeed.


Carlo said...

A wonderful post Graham. His influence through his magazine stewardship was felt globally for all of us fortunate enough to call this hobby our own.

'Lee. said...

I never met him Graham, but clearly he was a larger than life character judging from all the wonderful stories told about him by those who did! Like many of us I subscribed to that magazine from day one and it was a great source of inspiration.

rct75001 said...

Graham thank you for those personal comments about someone who I had never met but nevertheless has had a great influence on my enjoyment.

His magazines were the inspiration that got me into the hobby and kept me moving along. Only recently I have gone back looking for some of the early shots of Peter Gilders armies as I work on a new project.


The Tiberian General. said...

A lovely tribute Graham.

Willz Harley.

Independentwargamesgroup said...

Duncan was a real character Graham and unfortunately a bit of a one off. I used to badger him to photograph my 6mm Napoleonic's and it was at his suggestion that I put on a game at Thornton le Dale! Only Duncan would attend a wargames show in the middle of nowhere but I got my one minute of fame and felt ten feet tall. It was Duncan who would turn up at various shows carrying various copies of MWAN and the exotic Courier magazines in his faithful rucksack, that was effectively full of all his stock and magazines. They were always sold at a very fair price. At one of the last shows I met him at pre lockdown he had finally agreed to a proper interview to tell his story of the inception of Miniature Wargames for my Peter Gilder blog. It promised to be a salacious story of dodgy firms and fly by night printing companies, basically it was typical Duncan. He will be sadly missed.