Blitzcat – book report
Colegio de San Gabriel Arcangel
Name: Cherry Mae M. Benipayo
Yr. & Sec.: IV-Freud
Title of the Novel: BLITZCAT
Author: Robert Atkinson Westall
Awards received by the novel: Smarties Book Prize in 1989
Lord Gort – a biggish black she-cat with only a few white hairs, invisible beneath her chin; Geoff’s cat
Sergeant Millom – an official who handles the case of the lost Lord Gort
Tom/Tommy – Sergeant Millom’s son; a motor-mechanic to service corps
Agnes – Sergeant Millom’s wife
Jerry Hillfield – a special branch inspector
Geoffrey Wensley – a pilot in the Royal Air Force (RAF); Lord Gort’s owner
Florence Wensley – Geoff’s wife
Stalker – a man ignored in the army
Jones – a member of the Bird-Watching club
Janet – Stalker’s wife; a British
Marge – the girl on the switchboard; she worked in a draper before the war
Young Airman – the sergeant-pilot who had shot down the Stuka
Mrs Barston – a train passenger
Mrs Smiley – an officer’s lady
Sergeant Smith – a train officer
Donald – Mrs Smiley’s husband; an officer in Egypt
Corporal Siggis – a public schoolboy; 16
King George the Sixth – Sergeant Smith’s good friend
Ollie – farmer
Steve – young lad of 63
Maisie Sutton – the band leader who could thump the old piano so loud that once they’d never hear the siren nor the bombs dropping
Sampson – a cat
Trojan – a horse
Skinny – an old black and white female cat
Willie – cart passenger
Emperor – cart passenger
Duke – cart passenger
Duchess – cart passenger
Marjorie – cart passenger
Benjamin – cart passenger
Sarah – cart passenger
Fred Street – a man in a raincoat who reported to Ollie
Tommy Pierce – war victim
Harry Higgins – war victim
Susan Marriot – a promising young author
Timothy – Susan’s husband who passed away
Mr Addinsell – the first person Susan passed; 80
The Vet – the one who made Lord Gort feel well
Tommy Harrison – a rear-gunner
Gregson – a pilot and skipper
Mrs Sample – a local vicar’s wife
Problem faced by the main character:
Lord Gort and her family moved from Dover, Kent to Beaminister, Dorset. their movement is due to his owner, Geoffrey, who is a pilot in Royal Air Force (RAF), has been transferred there but is now flying missions in France. Lord Gort did not like her new situation so she made her way to look for her owner whom she knows that is far away from her.
How does the character face the problem?
Lord Gort exhibits her ability of psi-trailing. She made her way down the cliff, and on to the beach. At the edge of the waves, she stopped, shaking her wet paws. She knew that somewhere ahead was her person, but far, far away. She meowed plaintively; stood staring at the moving blur of uncrossable sea. She led the way to safety, out of the blazing hell of blitzed Coventry. People touched her for luck; feared her as an omen of disaster. Wherever she went, she changed lives…. until she found her way home.
Blitzcat’s story revolves around a female black cat named Lord Gort. She was named such by her owner in relation to the real Lord John Gort who was her owner’s Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Forces. Lord Gort psi-trails her owner, Geoffrey Wensley, in England during the Second World War in 1940-41. Psi-trailing is the animal’s ability to find their way back to their owners, even thousands of miles when they have separated from one another for some reasons.
Lord Gort and her family moved from Dover, Kent to Beaminister, Dorset. Their movement is due to his owner, Geoffrey, who is a pilot in Royal Air Force (RAF), has been transferred there but is now flying missions in France. Lord Gort did not like her new situation so she made her way to look for her owner whom she knows that is far away from her.
On her journey, she has many experiences. She managed to learn how to fetch rabbits for her food. Being wise enough, Lord Gort does not walk on open spaces so that she will feel if there is a threat coming to her. Later, she found herself on a train station where soldiers are going home to Dover. She is hoping that his owner is aboard on one of the trains that pass by. These soldiers believe that black cats bring good luck so they feed her well for a chance to rub her back. After some time, she was kept by a Sergeant and his wife. There, Lord Gort had an instinct of an air attack which surprisingly happened. Through her instincts, she managed to save people nearby.
Once more, Lord Gort get separated from the sergeant. She used her knowledge on her environment to learn who among those people are trustworthy. She smells out who were kind, who gave her a welcome, and those who were cruel. She made a habit of accosting the nervous sentries before she began to go through a wire.
Meanwhile, while Mrs. Wensley went out shopping with her baby, she saw a RAF officer. He was limping towards the street and looked like Geoffrey. Maybe he was too far to be recognized, but when she heared his voice, she flung herself into it with desperation. They talked about how Geoffrey made his way there with a sling on the other hand. When their conversation went to Lord Gort, Mrs Wensley felt ashamed to tell him that the cat was lost. But he was relieved when he learned that Lord Gort was seen at the Headcorn Station and the cat is heading back to Dover.
Old Ollie had a cart loaded with trusses of straw when the cat came walking boldly across the farmyard towards him. He is planning to kill the cat and her kittens. But he treats cats as if they were people, too. Old Ollie took Lord Gort. Stevo, his co-farmer, was preparing Irish stew for supper. They gave the cat what was left. The cat finished all the pot of fur, the followed Ollie back into the yard. It was cobbled with buildings on all four sides. Ollie liked to go and watch the band. The only steady member was Maisie Sutton, the band leader who could thump the old piano so loud that once they’d never hear the siren or the bombs dropping.
Meanwhile, Lord Gort had her kittens in Trojan’s disused manger. Oddly enough, she had reinforcements for the birth. The six new kittens climbed across the wet hay between their mother’s legs. There came a sound of tiny sucking, and at the same time, a tiny purring, smaller than a distant bee makes on a summer day.
Skinny, who became Lord Gort’s pal, took care of the kittens while their mother is consuming rats because the demands of feeding kittens began to drain her. On the other hand, Skinny prospered from the tremendous amount of kitchen-scraps delivered by Ollie and Stevo.
And then, on the fourteenth night, came a tragedy. The biggest and boldest, a tom kitten went on wandering. A rat came and took the kitten by surprise. Too late, came leaping home. But, it was too late for the kitten. Only Ollie and Stevo grieved. It was the first death.
But tragedy came at once; Hitler meant the attack that night. The sky lit up far better than the moonlight. Ack-ack shells burst overhead, blinding stars that left a black starred hole in your eye afterwards. But they couldn’t switch off the light or stop the mad drumming of the planes.
A van came in their village. They all ran. The van carries a familiar smell that they all wanted. They fall in line to get a loaf of bread to supply their stomach’s needs. Even though they weren’t out of food, there was only enough water and buckets for dinking and cooking. From the hungry time, it became the cold time and the smelly time. Men tried to report into the Coventry what was left for them.
Then there was the dreadful evening after they buried 420 people in a mass grove in Coventry, because nobody could recognize who they had been.
Ollie was home feeling empty, hopeless, and sat at his old chair at his old table. Lord Gort, standing on her hind legs, her paws on his thigh, offered him a fresh dead cat. Her whole world was in order, and now she was offering him help with this. Ollie realized one thing, “if a cat can do it, so can I!” He looked for a shelter and bought it for the refugees. Lord Gort was happy for it.
Bombed-out, people bargained their furniture. Ollie gave fair secondhand prices and refurnished his house and cottages with lovely, old stuff. People started calling him “Granda Burton”. As he strove to be fair and keep the peace among them all, again he felt a bit like Moses, the patriarch of a very large tribe.
The cats prospered, too. Skinny is now as fat as butter. Lord Gort was the queen of her kingdom. Ollie proposed a toast for Lord Gort. She seemed to realize she was approved of it.
One day, Lord Gort was missing with one of her kittens. They wandered until they reached another village where weeping Susan Marriot lives. She is weeping over Timothy who just died. Susan took care of the cats. Due to snow, Lord Gort was sick, so she was brought to the vet. She was treated there while Susan was feeding the rabbit, cat, and dog. After the snow, the mother cat was well. The vet asked Susan to help him in his clinic for a pound a week and she accepted it. Lord Gort was missing again. She left her kitten for she knew it would be safe for the kitten there. She also knew she was closer to her person.
While looking for her person, Lord Gort experienced more traumatic act of war. She was so near to his person now, less than 10 miles away, and the feel of him were very strong. So strong that she had not bothered to stop and hunt for food.
Suddenly, a blast picked her up bodily in one piece, threw her 60 feet into the air. It blinded her, deafened her and singed her fur. But even in that wretched state, as she felt herself starting to fall earthwards again, her body began to twist on itself instinctively, so that she would land feet-first. Instinctively, too, she spread her legs wide like a flying squirrel so that her soft folds of skin would act as a parachute. She crashed down among the springy leaves of an evergreen laurel, and bounced off on to a nest of dead ornamental fern. She got up slowly, and seemed to stare around. But she was blind and she could hear nothing. Since she had been facing away from the bomb, her lungs did not explode. Her sense of smell and touch guided her. She was still navigable. After a fortnight, her sight was back to normal, and she was hunting living prey in the hedgerows again. She continued her journey but she was still stone-deaf.
Lord Gort was only a hundred yards from the house. She waited patiently in the freezing garden, taking what shelter she could under a hedge. A north-east wind blew colder and warm shelter was what she needed. Tommy Harrison, a rear-gunner, made Lord Gort at peace. He fed her with his huge greasy pack of sandwiches.
Lord Gort had been a gift to the airmen. Everybody treated her as their lucky charm. They fed her, stroke her before they flew. If she dropped a whisker, it was snatched up and put in a battledress pocket carefully.
In fact, they became worried when they saw Lord Gort feeling unwell. She had eaten something she shouldn’t. Her eyes were closed, hunched back, brow furrowed. She had no idea, of course, that in minds of the airmen, she was a goddess with knowledge of life and death. From being the luck of the squadron, she became the angel of death. They blamed her for their losses. So, Tommy took her to live with an Aunty but Lord Gort refused to.
Meanwhile, flames chewed into the aircraft. Lord Gort was there. The armor doors were open, and Tommy and Lord Gort were gone. Tommy had bailed out and taken Lord Gort with him.
A hurricane of wind tore him. He knew he must pull the parachute’s ring but he won’t let go of Lord Gort. He doesn’t want to lose his luck.
Desperately, he groped for the ring but he couldn’t find it. Lord Gort panicked. He grabbed her again and found the ring under her fur. When they fell, Lord Gort trembled. Tommy went on lying in the soft furrows. But Lord Gort was gone.
Lord Gort watched silently as the men came and took Tommy away. She had enough fear, so she lay low. She followed Tommy’s trail of scent to a house. Tommy knew that Lord Gort is following him. He wanted to find the cat to bring her home to England. He won’t leave her in France.
Lord Gort was slow on her last journey. She was tired and she was pregnant again. She was always hungry, too. That same day, she nearly hanged herself; she was leaping down inside a broken field shed when her collar caught around a nail. She seemed to hang forever, chocking and kicking more and more feebly, with no one around her for mile to help.
Mrs Sample was her last great friend. After straying, public school boys took her to the NSPCA. Lord Gort had her last litter in the stable as well. Due to the lost of the cat’s collar, Mrs Sample runs through her repertoire to get Lord Gort’s name. so whe the cat’s ears suddenly twitched upon hearing “Haw-Haw”, Mrs Sample thought that was the name and renamed it to “Hawkins”. She put it in a medal for her new collar.
Lord Gort might have stayed there happily forever. But one morning, she sensed her person close, so she resumed her last journey.
To the south-west, Geoff did his new job somehow. He was bitterly unpopular at Group. He was an airman.
It was late in August when Lord Gort made it home. Flo saw her first. They rushed to Lord Gort but Geoff refused it was their cat due to its appearance. They saw the medal which says “Hawkins”, but still Geoff was double thinking if it was Lord Gort. He tested the cat by calling” Lord Gort” and the cat responds.
She was home with her person now. She had become again a perfectly ordinary cat, not worth a second glance.
What makes the novel won such award?
This novel is indeed award-winning because of the exciting story that would be loved not only by children but also by grown-ups.