Since the Napoleonic Wars at the beginning of the nineteenth century there had been a persistent fear of invasion in Britain and there had long been a public appetite for Coming War stories or Invasion Literature, pitting Britain against a series of pitiless foreign invaders, from The Battle of Dorking by George Chesney in 1871 to The Invasion of 1910 by William Le Queux in 1906.
As well as his 1898 novel The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells further added to the genre in 1903 by writing a prescient short story that was published in The Strand magazine. Entitled The Land Ironclads, it envisioned a navy of huge 100 foot long armoured machines like battle cruisers, driven by pedrails; wheels with feet like those of an elephant or caterpillar attached to the rims. These terrifying smoke-belching land ships bristled with guns and were filled with troops. They rolled across the battlefield, blinding the enemy with searchlights and crushing their trench defences.