Rugby player and war hero;

Born: November 10, 1921; Died: February 23, 2012.

Howard Campbell, who has died aged 90, was a Scotland rugby international and war hero. He was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry during the Second World War and, as one of those rugby players called to represent their country in the aftermath of the losses of so many great sportsmen in the conflict, won four caps for Scotland in 1947 and 1948.

He was born in Nairobi in Kenya, where his father, whose family was originally from Perthshire, was employed by the public works department as a civil engineer. When the time came to go to school, Campbell returned to Britain where he attended Oundle boarding school in Peterborough before going to Cambridge where he followed his father in studying engineering.

It was at Cambridge that he developed his love for rugby – a love that, as his daughter Katharine puts it, got into his blood and never got out again. He played as a prop forward in the services rugby internationals against England at Murrayfield and Leicester in 1944 and won a blue in the 1946 Varsity match.

It was while he was at university he was spotted by scouts looking for rugby players to plug the gaps in a national side that was desperately short of talent.

Before that, however, the war intervened and Campbell was called up. He served as a lieutenant with the Royal Engineers and won acclaim for his role in the liberation of the village of Standaarbuiten in the Netherlands in November 1944.

Campbell led an operation in support of the 104 US Infantry Division to form a bridgehead on the Mark river and carried out several successful personal reconnaissances under considerable heavy enemy small arms fire and shelling.

He was later awarded the Military Cross for his efforts and the recommendation for the award read: "Immediately on completion of reconnaissance and whilst the position was still under intermittent shellfire a bridge was successfully constructed at this crossing under Lieutenant Campbell's direction and control thus enabling vital supplies to reach the bridgehead forces."

The MC recommendation describes his work throughout the campaign as outstanding and an example of conscientious doggedness that saved many lives.

It said: "His organisation and supervision of mine clearance of forward routes and assembly areas immediately on landing undoubtedly saved many casualties.

"His role in all subsequent operations in which the unit took part has always been carried out with the utmost vigour and determination coupled with reasoned technical skill.

"He has never spared himself, accepting all operations of any magnitude and routine work with cheerfulness and displaying throughout an utter disregard for personal danger.

"His courage, always of a high order, and capabilities of leadership are an example and a constant source of inspiration and encouragement to the troops under his command."

After being demobbed, he returned to Cambridge to complete his engineering degree. He was first called up to play rugby for Scotland in February 1947 against Ireland at Murrayfield but they lost 3-0.

He kept his place for the Calcutta Cup match the following month but it was another disappointment – England's 24-5 win over Scotland was their biggest up to that point.

He was recalled for a 1948 match against Ireland – alas, another defeat – but his most successful outing for his country was in his fourth and last match the following year when Scotland won the Calcutta Cup.

After university, he continued to play club rugby for London Scottish and also played for the Barbarians.

His career as a civil engineer with Shell then started to take him around the world, including Sri Lanka where he formed a rugby team with local people. He was also posted to South Africa and India, where he worked on expanding the newly independent country's road system.

In retirement Campbell, who lived near Reading, was a keen photographer and enjoyed a round of golf at Henley Golf Club. His passion for rugby never left him and he would regularly go to to Murrayfield, where as a former international he had his own seat. He also regularly attended varsity matches.

He died last Thursday and is survived by his wife, Barbara, his son, Keith, who now works for Shell, and two daughters, Frances and Katharine. His eldest son James died from motor neurone disease in 2007.