Sgt Sam Hardy (Hardknocks)
Sergeant Hardy is central to the Seeking Courage story line, and is arguably as much a protagonist as Bob and Cissy. While fictional, Sam epitomizes the typical infantry Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) in the British Army at the time (Edwardian WW1). At the same time that so many newly enlisted junior officers were volunteer civilians with little or no military experience (outside of local drinking clubs known as militias), NCOs were more likely to be career soldiers with no chance of promotion due to educational restrictions. Many had fought in the Boer War and other conflicts.
Sgt Hardy brought to Lt Pitman’s Royal Canadian Regiment platoon such considerable experience that marching into battle was made less confusing. Pitman relied on Hardy for such duties as troop discipline, ammunition organization and moral support. Sam’s easy demeanor, battle confidence and rugged good looks brought them together as two mates in a civilian setting, yet they maintained the essential separation of rank during war.
Sgt Hardy follows Lt Pitman through most of the story line, from the night Bob met Cissy until he was declared missing toward the very end of the war. Later as air mechanic in the same squadron that Bob is assigned to in the Royal Flying Corps, Sam keeps Bob buoyant by talking through fear, and helps build his character to become more courageous (as does Wellsey and Howie).
Sam finally succumbs to his lifetime ‘Hardknocks’ nickname while at 100 Squadron, except with Bob. While Bob himself never accepts a fond nickname, he neither bestows one on his great friend; Sam is always Sam or Hardy, which perversely demonstrates a unique closeness.