Digby Smith was born in Aldershot, Hampshire, in 1935. He spent three years in India prior to the Second World War and another in Pakistan in 1948, following his army family around the globe. He joined the army as an apprentice tradesman in 1951, and in 1961 was commissioned into the Royal Corps of Signals and spent over 10 years in Germany. From 1970 he was part of the German Federal Armed Force. He resigned from the army in 1979 and until 1995 worked in logistics and customer services in the computer and IT field. In 1995 he began to compile the Greenhill Napoleonic Wars Data Book. His books include Armies of the Napoleonic Era, Navies of the Napoleonic Era (David & Charles); Armies of 1812, Armies of the Middle East (PSL); Napoleon's Regiments, 1813 Leipzig, and the Battle of the Nations (Greenhill Books). Many of his earlier works were published under the nom de plume of Otto von Pivka.