Bob Smith—Convalescence at Leysin

Shown here are two of three pictures taken of Bob Smith on March 18, 1945 in Leysin, Switzerland.

Regarding these portraits, Bob’s niece, Carole Procter, says:

“I think these photos are really quite sad as they show very clearly how quickly Bob became ill. He looks to have lost a lot of weight in the 9 months since the last lot were taken and although he is smiling in two of them he looks quite gaunt.”

After escape from Axis-occupied northern Italy into Switzerland, Bob was sent to the Camp D’Internement Militaire at Bürglen in the canton of Thurgau.

In a letter from the camp, dated March 20, 1944, Bob explains, “I leave this week for a winter sports camp.”

Carol says, “I assume that’s Adelboden as the ski photo is April 44.” (See posts British Rifleman Robert Smith and Bob Smith’s Adelboden Album.)

Bob spent the spring and summer at Adelboden. Then, in October 1944, having been diagnosed with tuberculosis, he was transferred to a sanatorium in Leysin, Switzerland.

Carole continues, “Clinique La Primevere was the name of the sanatorium. It was in Leysin itself.”

The facility became a hotel after the war, and “it was still a hotel a couple of years ago—just known as Hotel La Primevere. I did write to the previous owner to see if he had any information regarding its time as a sanatorium but he never replied—probably not a good idea to advertise your hotel’s past as a hospital!

“I’ve had another look for it on Google but it looks as if it has been sold off, as everything is up for sale for redevelopment and it doesn’t appear on any of the Leysin hotel lists any more.

“The last letter I have written from the Clinique is dated 8 June 1945, so he was there for a long time I think.”

Although Bob returned to England, he eventually succumbed to his protracted illness and died in 1950, while still serving in the army. He was 30 years old.

After his death, Bob’s mother received a remembrance scroll that commemorates his service to country and his sacrifice.

Carole writes, “It always had pride of place hanging on the wall in my grandmother’s house and now it hangs in our hallway!”