<XMP><BODY></xmp>The Land Ironclads by H. G. Wells

        I'm very pleased to be able to add H. G. Wells' "The Land Ironclads" to the collection of his works available online.

        In this story, published in 1903, Wells describes how a trench stalemate is broken by armoured vehicles. He obviously draws on the recent South African conflict for inspiration for his war between "Townsmen" and "Countrymen". The use of entrenchments had been a feature of the Boer War but was by no means new, having been seen in both the Crimea and American Civil War.
        The armoured vehicles Wells describes obviously differ in form from the tanks that were actually used in World War One but in principle they are identical. Wells recognized that such vehicles would need have good levels of firepower, protection and cross-country mobility.
        Wells also recognized that such vehicles would need to be applied en-mass and that infantry would have to follow close behind to hold the territory gained. In the story the latter use bicycles. The principles of concentration and consolidation were sometimes forgotten when tanks were used for real.
        Personally I find one of the most striking passages in this story is in the passage

        "What would you do if you were the enemy?" said the war correspondent, suddenly.
        "If I had men like I've got now?"
        "Take these trenches."
        "Oh-dodges! Crawl out half-way at night before moonrise and get into touch with the chaps we send out. Blaze at 'em if they tried to shift, and so bag some of 'em in the daylight. Learn that patch of ground by heart, lie all day in squatty holes, and come on nearer next night. There's a bit over there, lumpy ground, where they could get across to rushing distance-easy. In a night or so.. It would be a mere game for our fellows; it's what they're made for. . . .Guns? Shrapnel and stuff wouldn't stop good men who meant business."
        "Why don't they do that?"
        "Their men aren't brutes enough; that's the trouble. They're a crowd of devitalized townsmen, and that's the truth of the matter."

        Here a character describes the same "Hutier" or "Stormtrooper" infiltration tactics that the Germans would use successfully in the latter part of World War One. Attacks by stealth and infiltration were by no means new, but Wells clearly spells out how these might be used in the context of trench warfare.
        When reading this story it is important to bear in mind that Strand Magazine was popular with Gentlemen and that many senior or future senior officers would have not only read it regularly but have contributed articles to it themselves. Many of the commanders of World War One had therefore been introduced to both the ideas of Armoured vehicles and infiltration tactics as a solution to a trench stalemate.

        You can now read my scan on Scribd.

Land Ironclads

        Alternate (pre-Scribd) versions of the text are still available

        Version One is a text-only version in PDF format. Size is about 74KB.


        Version Two contains the original illustrations from The Strand Magazine and requires Adobe 6. This file is very large, about 6MB.


        These are configured as ebooks for reading on Handhelds. You will probably need to Right Click on the link and "Save Target as..."

        Version in PDB format for use with Palmreader or similar. Size 27KB.


        Version in TCR format for use with EPOC type machines. Size 26KB.


        Mike Sparks has turned my early scan into a webpage which can be found at


        There may be some transcription errors in the text of this version but it does include the original illustrations. This version also includes a personal analysis and commentary by Mike.

Brought to you by The Scrapboard.

        Long hours of scanning and proof-reading were involved in bringing you this story, not to mention buying a book with the original illustrations. If you have enjoyed this work please feel free to make a donantion, I have numerous Barmaids to support.