HE was a Glasgow Corporation bus driver who took his first-aid skills to Spain, where a civil war was raging.

At one point, the ambulance he was driving, near Madrid, was bombed and set on fire but he survived.

In 1938, Thomas Watters was presented with the OBE for meritorious service by the city's Lord Provost for the part he played in the Scottish Ambulance Unit in Spain.

Yesterday, it was announced by the International Brigade Memorial Trust that Mr Watters, the last survivor of the many Scots who volunteered to go to Spain between 1936 and 1939, had died. He was 99.

He passed away over the weekend at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. He had broken his femur in a fall at his home earlier in the week and his condition gradually deteriorated.

The trust was not aware of Mr Watters until June 2009, when he and other surviving volunteers received honorary Spanish citizenship at a ceremony in the Spanish Embassy in London.

Mike Arnott, who represents Scotland on the trust committee, said: "Mr Watters was ferrying ambulances to Spain. The secret service [MI5] released some records last year to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the start of the war, and we've traced Mr Watters going back to the UK at least twice and back out again, taking new equipment to Spain.

"On one occasion his ambulance was bombed and set on fire, but luckily he survived. General Franco's artillery, and the [German-established] Condor Legion, were not all that particular about the things they bombed."

Mr Watters, from Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire, spoke of his experiences when he visited Glasgow in August 2010 at the re-dedication of the statue of La Pasionaria, on the Clyde, following its restoration.

"I made many friends in Spain and I still have one or two, but of course, with the way the years go, there are not so many left now, and there's only a few of us left," he said.

"We were given dual nationality in 2009 and two of the people then, one of them a lady, were 100. We mustn't forget, many women went out there working, too, ready to face whatever came up. Some of them had very hard times."

He said the people who made up the International Brigades were not fighting men, but individuals who felt strongly about the need to combat the spread of fascism. "They went out there in ones and twos and the whole body was formed from all sorts of nationalities and languages. It was a huge job but they became very effective."

As a young man, however, Mr Watters had no interest in politics. Between the ages of 16 and 21 his main non-work interest lay in first aid and he studied under the British Red Cross for five years.

"When I was in Glasgow driving buses there was an appeal for volunteers to go out to Spain. The Corporation gave me unlimited freedom to go out and kept my job open for two years."

Of his time in Spain, he said: "It was very hard. The language was a big problem and the weather was sometimes appalling."

Mr Watters recalled many tonnes of food were sent out from Glasgow by ship to Valencia, which he and his colleagues then distributed.

At one point he had to run for cover from German bombs. "You never knew what was going to happen. People often asked, were you deliberately bombed or shot at? [But] if you go into the target [area], whatever the target is, you've to take what comes.

"I had quite a few narrow shaves but we were fortunate enough to make it – plenty others didn't."

In August 1938, he was presented with the OBE by Sir John Stewart, Lord Provost of Glasgow.

After the war, he returned to England, "because I thought I was on the way back to Spain for the reconstruction. But, of course, the Second World War started that September [1939], and that was it."