HMS Thunder Child


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HMS Thunder Child is a fictional ironclad torpedo ram of the Royal Navy, destroyed by Martian fighting-machines in H. G. Wells' 1898 novel The War of the Worlds whilst protecting a refugee rescue fleet of civilian vessels. It has been suggested[1] that Thunder Child was based on HMS Polyphemus, which was the sole torpedo ram to see service with the Royal Navy from 1881 to 1903.

Fictional description

In the novel Wells gives only a rough description of the ship, describing her thus: "About a couple of miles out lay an ironclad, very low in the water, almost, to my brother's perception, like a water-logged ship. This was the ram Thunder Child".[2] A few paragraphs later, it is stated that "It was the torpedo ram, Thunder Child, steaming headlong, coming to the rescue of the threatened shipping".[2] The battle takes place off the mouth of the River Blackwater, Essex, where people from London are escaping the Martian offensive. Three Martian fighting-machines having approached the vessels from the seaward side, HMS Thunder Child signals to the main fleet and steams at full speed towards the Martians without firing. The Martians, whom the narrator suggests are unfamiliar with large warships (having come from an arid planet) at first use only a gas attack. When this fails to have any effect, they employ their Heat-Ray, inflicting fatal damage on the Thunder Child. The ship continues to attack, bringing down one of the fighting machines with its guns even as it succumbs. The flaming wreckage of the ironclad finally ram into a second fighting-machine, destroying it. When the black smoke and super-heated steam banks dissipate, both the Thunder Child and the third fighting-machine are gone. The attack by Thunder Child occupies the Martians long enough for three Royal Navy warships of the main Channel Fleet to arrive.

See also


  1. ^ Bennighof, Mike (April 2008). "Great War of the Worlds at Sea". Avalanche Press. Retrieved 29 January 2009.
  2. ^ a b Wells, H.G. "The War of the Worlds". Project Gutenberg. Retrieved 21 September 2021.

External links

  • The War of the Worlds at Project Gutenberg