Seeking Courage: An Airman’s Pursuit of Identity & Purpose Through Love and Loss During WW1



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About The Book

Gregory P. Smith has released his debut novel, Seeking Courage, the story of a young Canadian flyer who overcomes crippling fear and personal tragedy to take part in the birth of mechanized warfare during World War I. In 1915, twenty-three-year-old Lieutenant Robert Courtenay Pitman leaves Saskatoon and a promising law education to meet the King’s call to arms in the Great War raging across Europe. Awarded an officer’s commission without ever before experiencing battle, he is pitched into an environment of death and destruction. Arriving at the front, Pitman leads his platoon into the Battle of the Somme and is buried alive under intense bombardment. While convalescing from shell shock in London, he meets Cissy Ann Taylor, a munitionette who balances dangerous work with the independence that her new wartime income provides. Bob is struck by more than her beauty, also by her devotion to women’s suffrage and her war efforts. After a brief and passionate few weeks, he reports back to his regiment but is shocked and humiliated to discover he has contracted a sexually transmitted disease, preventing him from returning to the front. Yet the delay was fateful, since after hospital release Bob joins the Royal Flying Corps in France, placing him at life threatening risk: night-bombing enemy targets in an open air biplane. All the while Cissy in England faces daily peril assembling munitions. In spite of the war circumstances which keep them apart, their love deepens with passionate letter writing and loving encounters made possible through periodic leave. As the war intensifies, Bob’s missions become increasingly more dangerous as he begins to question the motivations of his superior officers and the effect the war is having on his soul. But thoughts of possibly enjoying a post-war life with Cissy keep him going. Seeking Courage is a history story told in fiction, incorporating true-to-life events which exactly parallel official Royal Canadian Regimental and 100 Squadron records, as well as Pitman’s personal service records. This is a must read for everyone’s interest in love, struggle and courage.

About The Author

Despite holding a B.Comm in marketing and an MBA in finance, Gregory’s true passion is telling stories. In fact, he found that he began unconsciously weaving anecdotes into his finance presentations to large corporate clients. His wanderlust has taken him to dozens of countries on six of the seven continents, and his unstoppable appetite to consume history has led him down many paths of adventure! Four adult children, who are always somewhere out there bring him constant joy. Gregory lives with his wife, Faye, and white mini schnauzer, Sophie Bella, in Vancouver, Canada.

Product Details
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Indigo River Publishing (July 24, 2019)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 504 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1948080877
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1948080873
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.47 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 1.14 x 9 inches

“This is a wonderful novel. It is exciting, engaging, gut-wrenching, enjoyable, and sorrowful to read. I looked forward to continuing the story each time I picked it up again. The best thing about it is that it brings to life what people were experiencing in the First World War. Like Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage, this novel gives us truths about being in war that you’ll never get from any history text. I could tell that the author had insights — from actually being in the cockpit of an FE2b — that I’ve never picked up in 25 years of studying WWI bombing campaigns.”

–Steve Suddaby, Past President, WWI Historical Association, Annadale, Virginia

“Seeking Courage by Gregory Smith brings to life the plight of a soldier during the Great War, one who moves from the trenches to take flight over them. As an Aviator myself I can relate to the desire to slip the surly bonds of earth and take to the air over the grit and horrors faced by infantrymen on the ground. This story is more than a tale of one Aviator, it is the story of humanity and the choices we make.

Seeking Courage is a dynamic historical novel which describes in great detail the life of a young Canadian driven to defend democracy. Fighting on foreign soil he is inspired by love and compassion. This brings him to the realisation that he has the chance to pursue life to the fullest and the freedom to make his own choices.

–Gene Demarco, Aviation Consultant & FE2b Pilot, New Zealand

“I enjoyed reading the novel very much. For most of it, I had to set a timer to make sure I didn’t sit here for countless hours. I especially enjoyed the scenes of flying and the fliers’ lives. They were vivid, exciting and well-paced. The love scenes were tactfully handled and reflected well Lt. Pitman’s romantic nature.”

–Susan Hall-Balduf, Former Publications Editor, the Western Front Association, Detroit Michigan

“I was definitely drawn in at the beginning of the book… As someone who does not know a lot of WWI, I really found value in being transported to the front lines and understanding from the perspective of the protagonist the situations of war. I found value in learning new things that I didn’t know previously. I thought that the use of imagery and personification was used very well throughout the story…I would recommend this book.”

–Jill Saevitzon, Legal & Business Manager, Television Industry, Toronto, Canada


From the Back Cover

Lieutenant Robert Courtenay Pitman is honor bound to give up his Canadian law studies to fight for the Great War cause…

By 1916, he leads an infantry platoon in western France, where he is struck down in a pitiless bombardment. Post-shell-shock life brings about changes: battling self-doubt, risking life in open aircraft, and finding love.

As Pitman recovers from injuries sustained at the Somme, he meets the beautiful suffragette and munitionette Miss Cissy Ann Taylor. As Cissy applies her gifted skills on an English factory floor and Bob follows orders from 100 Squadron to undertake increasingly dangerous sorties night bombing over France, their love flourishes,

This true-to-life accounting of a young man thrust into war describes the horror of mechanized slaughter – the first of its kind, never witnessed in any prior war – and the power of love that drives his courage. This story is a remembrance of all servicemen who fought for the lasting democracy we still enjoy today.