Smith was born in Burnley on 16 October 1918 and was educated at Burnley Grammar School and the University of Manchester. He was house surgeon to the professor of surgery and surgical tutor at the University of Manchester before being appointed surgical registrar to Ancoats Hospital. Smith left Manchester for Oxford in 1953, and became senior registrar in surgery and later tutor in surgery. In 1959 Smith went to Northampton General Hospital where he was senior registrar and later consultant accident surgeon. He was consultant surgeon to Caernarvon and Anglesey Hospital Group from 1967. Smith was a member of MMS and of the Royal Society of Medicine.