In Jeff Wayne's musical adaptation of HG Well's War of the Worlds the phrase

"I realised with horror that I'd seen this awful thing before"

is spoken by Richard Burton playing The Journalist.

What is the phrase referring to?

1 Answer 1


The full quote is:

Each carried a huge funnel [...] and I realised with horror that I’d seen this awful thing before.

My understanding is that the "awful thing" he was referring to was the Heat Ray, which he had previously seen on Horsell Common, mentioned in the previous track #2; Horshell Common and the Heat Ray.

A tall funnel rose, then an invisible ray of heat leapt from man to man and there was a bright glare, as each was instantly turned to fire. Every tree and bush became a mass of flames at the touch of this savage, unearthly Heat Ray.

For completeness, I should point out that this weapon is also mentioned in the original text

A kind of arm carried a complicated metallic case, about which green flashes scintillated, and out of the funnel of this there smoked the Heat-Ray.

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