He was just 18 when he travelled to Spain to fight the Fascists. Nearly 70 years on, he was still speaking about why he signed up for a war that came to signify one of the most potent episodes of idealism and moral duty in European history.

But yesterday it was announced that Stevie Fullerton, the last of a generation of Scots who rallied to the banner of Republican Spain after the 1936 fascist insurrection lead by General Franco, had died, aged 88.

Mr Fullerton, was the youngest of 500 Scots to join the International Brigades, when Spain's democratic government faced defeat.

He signed up in the spring of 1938, during his training as an apprentice engineer in Glasgow. It was seeing news footage of women running around "with terror in their eyes" that convinced him to fight in the Spanish Civil War.

In the main, those who went there wanted to stem the flow of Fascism and save the world from Nazism. Mr Fullerton was among four young men from the same tenemented street in Shettleston who went to Paris, before travelling undercover to the south of France.

There they assembled with around 50 other anti-fascists before being issued with canvas shoes to help them avoid being overheard by enemy soldiers, as they crossed the Pyrenees. With no uniforms, few supplies and little ammunition, they were smuggled to Catalonia to join the British battalion.

Speaking of his experiences in an interview with The Herald several years ago, Mr Fullerton said: "I felt strongly about the terrible things that were happening to the people of Spain. It was as simple as that. I felt if there was anything I could do, then let me do it. It was one of the world's great causes of the last century."

Recalling being bombed by a fascist plane, before arriving at the river Ebro, he said: "They flew low enough to see our faces. I got my head down and kept it there."

He was shot in the abdomen in August 1938, during the offensive on the river Ebro. He waited for darkness before crawling back to fellow brigadiers. The war finished for him at that time.

"We had no chance from the beginning. If I had known that, I'd still have gone. It was a question of morality," he added.

Around 35,000 volunteers from 53 nations stood side by side with the Spanish people in what history now records as one of the greatest moral crusades of our time. It is estimated 2400 from Britain joined the International Brigades.

Back in Britain, Mr Fullerton joined the RAF during the Second World War.

He had been settled in Edinburgh for the past 60 years, and latterly lived in care home. He died in hospital on Friday, and is survived by a daughter and two sons.

His death was announced by his son Ronnie, 54, who said: "People from all over the world joined up to the International Brigade. He was proud of his part."

Marlene Sidaway, secretary of the International Brigade Memorial Trust, said: "Stevie was a lovely man. His hearing and sight were getting very bad, but he was still able to talk very lucidly about his experiences. We'll all miss him very much."

Mr Fullarton's funeral will take place in Edinburgh tomorrow.