Great War History of Robert Courtenay Pitman

Inaugural Novel ‘Seeking Courage’ has launched!

Buy now!

Also available on Indigo Books and Music

Gregory 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 officers 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.


  • This is a wonderful novel. It is exciting, engaging, gut-wrenching, enjoyable, and sorrowful to read.

    Steve Suddaby
    Steve Suddaby Past President, WWI Historical Association, Four Time Winner of Thornton D. Hooper Award for Excellence in Aviation History, Annadale, Virginia
  • This story is more than a tale of one Aviator, it is the story of humanity and the choices we make."

    Gene Demarco
    Gene Demarco Aviation Consultant & FE2b Pilot, NZ
  • I especially enjoyed the scenes of flying and the fliers’ lives. They were vivid, exciting and well-paced.

    Susan Hall-Balduf Former Publications Editor, the Western Front Association -- US Branch and the World War One Historical Association, Detroit, Michigan
  • “I was highly impressed with the structure, and the way in which the story unfolded kept my attention.”

    Peter Devilliers Technology Historian, Boca Raton, Florida
  • “The use of imagery and personification was used very well throughout the story.”

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

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