hms thunderchild

Farewell Thunderchild!

One of the most gallant and uplifting stories of heroism I know today still is and has been ever since I was a child is that of the fictional HMS Thunderchild, a true exemplar of human spirit and martyrdom. Even on her last legs, her heart vaporized by intense rays of heat she charged down another foe with the true brute force that is sometimes signatory of mankind’s violent nature, all to permit safe exit for the thousands on board the escape ferry. It was not her torpedo ram that struck the second martian tripod but her flaming, vengeful debris.

This moment always touches my heart when I read it or hear it in Jeff Wayne’s musical adaptation (I prefer the original) and describes some dark but stubborn nature of mankind I admire greatly.

HMS Polyphemus in a Malta Dockyard, 1881. As the only torpedo ram to serve in the Royal Navy, she was designed to penetrate harbours at speed, sinking ships at anchor. The central torpedo tube was fit with a steel bow cap which hinged upward - reinforced to be a ram. Interesting hydrodynamic effects were observed on this ship, being quite by accident one of the first bulbous bows. 

The ship found a place in the H. G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds, in which one HMS Thunder Child- a torpedo ram - comes to the aid of evacuees, felling a martian tripod and damaging another.