From the upstairs window of his study the narrator observes the destruction of his village and the fires all around Horsell Common, as well as the outlines of three creatures moving in the pit. He hardly recognizes his surroundings. The narrator begins to comprehend that the creatures from the cylinder operate the tripods, comparing them to a human-driven steam engine.
Yes, I shot one.
He invites an injured soldier into the safety of his home. The man recounts the futile military efforts against the Martians, who easily destroyed both companies and weaponry before emerging in tripods from the pit and destroying a train and the railway station. Luckily, the artilleryman managed to escape. The men observe from the window to see three tripods at the pit. As the sun rises, the narrator sees destruction.
The artilleryman and the narrator have no choice but to escape, the artilleryman towards London and the narrator to his wife in Leatherhead. As the road to Leatherhead is obstructed by the third cylinder, the narrator proceeds with the artilleryman and come across a lieutenant accompanied by soldiers approaching from othe other direction. The artilleryman relates of the destruction of the day before. The two continue along the road, passing soldiers who urge reluctant people to flee.
Who are you?
The two men reach a chaotic scene in Weybridge as people crowd the railway station and the ferry in an effort to leave. Suddenly they hear gunfire and a large explosion, and four tripods come into view across the river. The narrator's only chance of survival is to hides under water. One shell strikes the tripod and gruesomely kills the Martian inside. Unguided but still moving, the tripod smashes into a church and falls into the river. The other Martians come to the fallen tripod, shooting their Heat-Rays at the village.
The Martians retreat to Horsell Common, and the narrator speculates that if they had proceeded straight to London the destruction would have been tremendous. Readers learn that a new cylinder lands every 24 hours. The Martians learn from the destruction of the tripod brought down by artillery and never allow humans close to them again. They busy themselves with moving all their supplies to the first pit.
The narrator escapes Weybridge in an abandoned boat. Tired and sick, he gets out at Walton and begins to walk before lying down beside the road. On waking, he discovers a curate is beside him. The narrator believes the horror the curate witnessed had "driven him to the very verge of his reason." He advises the curate to keep calm in the chaos. The narrator deduces the Martians will come their way soon and devises a direction they should take.