“Forthwith the six guns which, unknown to anyone on the right bank, had been hidden behind the outskirts of that village, fired simultaneously. The sudden near concussion, the last close upon the first, made my heart jump. The monster was already raising the case generating the Heat-Ray as the first shell burst six yards above the hood. … Simultaneously two other shells burst in the air near the body as the hood twisted round in time to receive, but not in time to dodge, the fourth shell. The shell burst clean in the face of the Thing. The hood bulged, flashed, was whirled off in a dozen tattered fragments of red flesh and glittering metal.
“Hit!” shouted I, with something between a scream and a cheer.”
Of all our vaunted technology, only the efforts of the modern artillery seemed to give the invaders any pause. Even our mighty Navy, though effective, found itself helpless at sea while the marauders burned and poisoned their way through the countryside.
Even so, a battery of six guns was no match for more than two of the Martian Fighting Machines. We would always strike from surprise and the Martians, once alerted to our presence, would strike back with their terrifying heat ray and destroy the entire battery. We found we were outclassed in several areas. The Martian heat ray was deadly accurate, quick to re-orient and could fire multiple bursts of deadly invisible phlogiston in quick succession. In comparison, our artillery, field guns and cannon, was slow to reload, sluggish in movement and, perhaps worst of all, woefully inaccurate.
“The Heat-Ray is certainly capable of dealing death – melting lead, softening iron, incinerating wood and cloth and searing flesh to ashes. When used, it handles as a man might handle a searchlight – playing over it’s targets for a split second before moving on, ever in search of victims to blacken and twist.
It is limited in several ways and as a result we must play to our strengths and be well aware of the limitations of the enemy. The Heat-Ray is quick, deadly and implacable. But it is also limited in range and can only fire within the line of sight of the Martian in the hood of the fighting machine. With camouflage, surprise and God’s help, we will be able to take on perhaps as many as four Fighting Machines at once with a minimum of casualties.
Our field guns have a much greater operational range and we estimate the artillery teams can fire as many as three times before the Fighting Machines come within operational range. We can also operate from the safety of an indirect fire location – behind a hill for instance. This gives us additional protection and opportunities to lay down fire upon the enemy.
With this tactic, we can effectively resist the invaders.”
This tactic, of course, was soon abandoned as quickly as the artillerymen abandoned their guns at the sound of the terrible howl of the Fighting Machines. England, and indeed the rest of the world, belonged to the Martians.