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What would it have been like for the crew of HMS Thunder Child? The fictitious ship from the War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells.
I had a fascination with Victorian ironclads and the first revolving turret ships. These steel beasts of the British Empire never really saw action of note because during this day and age, the Royal Navy was very advanced with many ships to call upon to serve its vast empire. It was never put to the test until the time of the dreadnoughts in WWI. There was a 100 year period when Great Britain's navy cruised, at will, around the entire planet. Nothing of substance could face it upon our Earth. Nothing of note did. These wonderful ships came and went during that period of peace at sea, for Great Britain.
Then, to my delight, I read H.G.Wells' fabulous SciFi novel set in the Victorian era. This author created the ultimate for me. Nothing on Earth could face this proud navy. So he brought us 'off world aliens' from Mars in gigantic machines that roamed, at will, on three legs. The story contained a small exert of an old ironclad called HMS Thunder Child. It lasted but half a page within the novel, but gave me cause to wonder.
I wanted the ship (Thunder Child) to be like HMS Devastation or HMS Thunderer the sister ship. They were among the first revolving turrets ships without sails. I wanted the old fictitious ironclad (HMS Thunder Child) to be like one of these. It would have been built in 1971 and therefore would be old by 1898. For poetic licence I wanted it to have retained its muzzle loading guns with short stumpy barrels that barely protruded from the revolving turret's ports. I needed to invent a reason for the old (and by this time) obsolete guns to still be in use. Muzzle loaders were changed for long barrel breech loaders across the Royal Navy in the 1880s decade, after a terrible accident with HMS Thunderer.
All this was created to give fictitious HMS Thunder Child an excuse to still have the muzzle loaders, years after them becoming obsolete in the Royal Navy. It lent the ship a vulnerability, to my mind, as I decided to write a pastiche novel set in H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds Universe. I wanted to go aboard Thunder Child in the days prior to her encounter with three Martian tripods in the River Blackwater, off the Coast of Maldon in Essex, England, UK. The River Blackwater is a small tributary that leads out into the North Sea. What happened in the days leading up to the dramatic event?
Writing - The Last Days of Thunder Child - a pastiche story
It took me upon a fantasy of my own and an enjoyable adventure. It was a wonderfully engrossing project. If anyone reads H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds or even listens to Jeff Wayne's musical adaptation of the book, they will delight in the tale of Thunder Child's grand moment as the brave ironclad attacks the Martians to save a paddle steamer crammed with refugees. I decided to go back a few days hence the confrontation, and join the crew upon its journey that would lead to the ultimate meeting.
Images below of Thunder Child and HMS Devastation - the way I imagined the ficticious ship from War of the Worlds.
|Artist impression of Thunder Child|
|Model of HMS Devastation|
|Another view of HMS Devastation|
|Artist's impression of HMS Devastation in Malta|
|Impression of Thunder Child battling Martian tripods|
|Jeff Wayne's artist does a great image of Thunder Child.|
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