The Battle for Swindon
16-Jun 00:01 – Wednesday
Since the establishment of the #Gascoyne-Cecil-Line on 9 June the army had been hard at work establishing a mined line a mile-wide along GWR’s mainline east of London. Today the defences are tested as the Martian’s attack Swindon. The Martian’s flying-machine flies numerous sorties for the first time. In a bid to prevent the line from collapsing, Lt Dullanty, now based at Greenwich, is ordered to destroy the Martian’s flying base on Primrose Rose.
In London, Morant, having lost the heat-ray to the Coldstream Guards’ Special Operation Coy, has to explain to Marie Curie that he also lost her husband, Pierre.
And once again Toni’s diary reminds us that all of us have value. Society sometimes discards the old. In fact, this was a theme during the Martian invasion. The old and infirm were left behind. But without Sir John and the other ‘oldies’ in Queen Anne’s Mansions, there would have been no wireless communications, and very limited supplies of the gas masks required to survive the black smoke.
16-Jun 03:25 @HGWells#Swindon
Wells later reports waking to hear a sound like heavy guns at this time. He counts six distinct reports, and after a long interval six again. But he was unable to identify the direction they came from. It is highly likely what he was hearing was the battle for Swindon.
16-Jun 06:30 @BreakerMorant #WeLostOurHeatRay
Heading back to Waterloo Station. Still in the open, without fast transport, We were just lucky we didn’t encounter Martians.
16-Jun 07:00 @BreakerMorant #WeLostOurHeatRayANDPierre
We made it to Southwark Station, then underground to Waterloo.
Marie was hysterical about where her husband might be. We have no idea.
16-Jun 08:00 @BreakerMorant #WeLostOurHeatRayANDPierre
Vogan’s team arrived back, elated about their kill and escape from the searching tripods. However, they were as brassed off as I was when they heard about losing the heat gun and Pierre. Only one thing for it – we duck the morning handover and get drunk.
16-Jun 09:00 @LtCarver
From the personal log of Lt. Roger Carver, #RoyalMarines HMS Thunder Child, 16 June 1897, 09:00 GMT:
Loading the horses onto the ferry took most of the night, and then unloading them in Gravesend the rest of the night. Markinson was as good as his word and the Ferry performed faultlessly. The group appears in good spirits and determined to exact its revenge for those the Martians killed in Tilbury.
16-Jun 09:30 @LtJRDullanty #PersonalDiary #Greenwich #FlyingMachine
Sentries reported the return of the flying-machine. Sergeant Hugh is convinced it landed somewhere near Regent’s Park.
I called for volunteers to see if we could locate its base. Sergeant Hugh and three other have agreed to try.
We can’t use the bridges, but there are rumours of at least one group using the Underground to pass around the city undetected. The Sergeant intends to enter the tunnels at London Bridge and work his way through to Kings Cross. He’ll take one of the heliographs with him.
16-Jun 10:00 #Curate #Sheen
Wells and the curate have now been confined to the collapsed house in Sheen for 8 days. In his book Wells records their food supply, despite rationing, was almost exhausted, and given the curate’s behaviour Wells has been forced to mount guard over what remains of their food.
16-Jun 12:00 @BreakerMorant #PiccadillyParty
Eventually the pub-crawl ended up at Piccadilly Circus where we found a party just firing up.
16-Jun 15:00 @LtJRDullanty
FROM FIELD MARSHAL WOLSELEY STOP
TO COLONEL COLDSTREAM GUARDS GENERAL SIR STEPHENSON STOP
SITUATION AT SWINDON PRESENTLY STABLE STOP BUT ARTILLARY SUFFERED HEAVY LOSSES AS RESULT OF ATTACK FROM THE AIR STOP IMPERATIVE THAT THE MARTIANS FLYING MACHINE IS DESTROYED ENDS
16-Jun 15:15 @LtJRDullanty
The message FROM FIELD MARSHAL WOLSELEY was forwarded to Lt JR Dullanty with the following addition.
JAMES IT IS VITAL THE FLYING MACHINE IS DESTROYED STOP GOD GO WITH YOU FRED
16-Jun 15:20 #FieldMarshallWolseley
Wolseley had become Commander-in-Chief of English forces in Ireland in 1890. Promoted to Field Marshal on 26 May 1894, he was appointed by the Conservative government to succeed the Duke of Cambridge as Commander-in-Chief of the Forces on 1 November 1895.
Despite still recovering from a serious illness at the time of the Martian invasion, he was in Swindon as part of an inspection of the army’s preparations to defend the Gascoyne-Cecil line when the Martians launched their attack.
16-Jun 16:00 @LtJRDullanty #PersonalDiary
I was preparing the unit to move out when we finally heard from Sergeant Hugh. He confirmed that the flying-machine is stabled at Primrose Hill, but that the Martian’s encampment appears heavily fortified. His team is presently camouflaged in a copse of trees between Regent’s Canal and Prince Albert Road. The heliograph has had to be positioned some distance away.
16-June 23:00 #Sheen #WeAreCattle
Wells later records one of the most traumatic scenes he observes during the war when he sees men being brought to the pit. “A fighting machine appeared and I watched a long tentacle reaching over the shoulder of the machine to the little cage hunched upon its back…
“Then something—something struggling violently—is lifted high against the sky, a black, vague enigma against the starlight; and as this black object came down again, I see by the green brightness that it is a man. For an instant he was clearly visible…
“And then the man vanishes behind the mound, and for a moment there is silence. But then begins a shrieking and a sustained and cheerful hooting from the Martians.”
16-Jun 23:35 #HiramMaxim
From the personal journal of Hiram Maxim:
I was about to bed down for the night when I thought I heard something moving around outside. I picked up my revolver and went outside and quietly began to work my way to the barn.
I rattled the door. It was locked. My equipment was still secure inside. I began to walk back to the house when I encountered the silhouette of a man in front of me. I raised my pistol but the man cried softly as he staggered towards me and fell into my arms.
I carried the stranger inside and lay him down on my cot. He was a young man and wore part of a naval officer’s uniform. His forehead was marked by gash caked with dried blood. One side of his face was cracked red and blistered. He’d seen the Heat Ray, all right.
How did he come inland? I cleaned the sailor up and tended his wounds as best I could and let him rest. I noticed a waterlogged book sticking out of his uniform jacket pocket: LOG OF HMS THUNDER CHILD. Hoping it would provide me a clue, I opened the book and began to read.
16-Jun 23:40 @LtJRDullanty #PersonalDiary
Arrived at Sergeant Hugh’s camp. No-one enjoyed walking through the tunnels but it certainly kept us unobserved by the Martians.
16-Jun 23:45 @SgtHugh #ReminiscesOnTheWar
From Sergeant Hugh’s Reminisces on the War
By the time the Lieutenant found us, Primrose Hill was lit up so brightly by the Martian’s lights that from where we were you could see the dark shadows of the Martian’s moving about, silhouetted against the glare.
I was the one who had to deliver the bad news – there was simply no way that we could get close enough to the flying-machine to destroy it. It had landed vertically behind high earthen walls, and was covered by a heavy metal roof that split down the middle like a gigantic door when the craft needed to emerge.
“We have no choice,” the Lieutenant said. “We have to destroy the machine or we lose Swindon, and the Line, tomorrow.”
The Lieutenant and I stared glumly at each other, as the others looked on.
“Lieutenant.” It was Guardsman Washington. “My father’s a driver for the Earl of Sussex. This flying thingy must have some sort of fuel. My father goes on and on about how gasoline is stinking everything up. Maybe we can destroy that?”
The Lieutenant considered him thoughtfully, and Washington flushed uncomfortably. “That’s a good idea,” the Lieutenant told him. “But what fuel is it?”
“I couldn’t say Sir. But I saw some sort of flexible pipe running down the hill to Regent’s Canal. They’ve got some sort of building on the bank there.”
“Sergeant?” the Lieutenant asked.
“I saw it as well,” I told him.
“Then that’s our target. We’re going to be moving quickly so I want the dynamite split up between everyone.”
16-Jun 23:46 #HydrogenIsHighlyInflamable
From the subsequent description it would appear that the Martian’s were using compressed hydrogen to power their flyer, a notoriously unstable fuel unless properly stored.