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Tributes to Accrington war hero
3:00pm Saturday 18th January 2014 in News
A WAR hero who survived after being left for dead on a battlefield has died at the age of 88.
Robert Smith, of Milnshaw Gardens, Accrington, was abandoned after being shot by a sniper in Belgium during the Second World War.
After being found by American troops, Robert was taken to hospital where he remained for 12 months with serious injuries.
He was yesterday remembered by his family as a ‘brave’ soldier and a forward-thinking family man.
His daughter, Marjorie Bolton, 62, said: “He was a good dad, and a good worker.
“He was very brave and, until the day he died, he was tough.
“He was only small but he was strong.”
Best known as Bob, Mr Smith served as a dispatch rider in the Royal Signals.
Reaching the rank of lance corporal, Mr Smith fought in France, Italy, Germany, and Belgium.
It was there he was hit in the leg by a sniper’s bullet.
Marjorie said: “He had to have skin grafts from his back and bottom to put on the back of his legs.
“He was one of the first ones to have that done.”
Mr Smith was also treated with penicillin, which was then a rarity.
The treatment was credited with saving his life.
After leaving the forces, he worked as a setter and turner, and an engineer.
A keen watcher of football, Mr Smith also enjoyed golf and snooker, and holidays abroad with his widow, Joyce.
He avidly read war stories and watched quiz and trivia programmes on the television.
Mr Smith became ill after a fall late last year.
Marjorie said: “He took my mum to a hospital appointment and, as he was coming home, fell on some ice and broke his hip.
“He developed pneumonia. He recovered but began to get poorly again.
“When we went to see him on Christmas Day, he was not very well, and I got a phone call on December 27 to say he was getting worse.”
Mr Smith died later that day.
Standard bearers from the Royal British Legion attended his funeral service last week.
Marjorie added: “My mum and dad sold poppies all over, and worked in the charity shop.
“Somebody stood up at the funeral and said ‘we will remember them’, and without being prompted, everyone replied, ‘we will remember them’.”
Mr Smith was also survived by his grandchildren, Michael and Rachael, and three great-grandchildren.
Donations are still being received at Royal British Legion Blackburn, care of Hyndburn Funeral Services, Queens Road, Accrington.
Call 01254 233133 with enquiries.
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