Sidney Smith was born at Feltham, Middlesex. His father was Robert Smith, a member of the stock exchange. His mother’s maiden name was Rosa Louise Bashfardy. He was educated at King’s College School and King’s College, London, where he was awarded the Tanner Prize in 1911 and the senior medical and surgical prizes in 1912. During the Balkan War in 1912 he was surgeon to the British Embassy in Constantinople, and surgeon to Dr. Clemow’s Hospital for Wounded Turks. He enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1914, and continued in that service until retirement in 1948. He served in France, was taken prisoner by the Germans in 1918, and released in 1919.
In the years between the wars he served in England, in India, and in Hong Kong. He qualified as Specialist in Medicine in 1926, and worked thereafter in that capacity. In 1941 he was posted as Consultant in Tropical Medicine to Middle East Force with the rank of Colonel, and was promoted Temporary Brigadier in 1942. He was made Honorary Physician to the King in 1941, and was mentioned in despatches in 1942. In 1944 he returned to England and was posted to the Royal Army Medical College, first as Reader and later as Assistant Professor of Medicine. He retired from the Army in 1948, and from professional work ten years later.
Sidney Smith was of a quiet and reserved disposition, never flustered, never upset. He was essentially a clinician, with a sound knowledge of every branch of medicine, but particularly of tropical diseases. His work in India and Hong Kong, together with some teaching experience while on the staff of the Royal Army Medical College qualified him admirably for the consultant appointment in Middle East, which was the acme of his career. This appointment was far from being a sinecure. The numerous hospitals in the Force had on their staff many civilian physicians of high standing who however had little if any experience of tropical diseases, and it fell to Smith’s lot to advise and guide them. Such a situation might have given rise to friction and unpleasantness, but Smith’s tact coupled with his obviously expert knowledge of his subject avoided any such trouble. He quickly gained universal confidence and respect, and under his guidance the standard of work reached a high level.
He was responsible for re-writing certain sections of the post-war edition of the official publication, Memoranda on Medical Diseases in Tropical and Subtropical Areas. His one hobby was photography, and he carried his camera around with him wherever he went.
He married in 1917 Marcelle Georgette, daughter of Col. Gustave Bretocq of the French Army. They had one son.
Sir John Boyd
[Brit.med.J., 1966, 2, 1078]