Born in Glasgow on January 28, 1928, John Rae’s early childhood was spent in London, Ontario. His family had migrated to Canada when he was only a few months old, but, hit hard by the Wall Street collapse and the Great Depression, they returned to Scotland in 1933, settling in Edinburgh.

There he absorbed the literary romanticism of Sir Walter Scott, and lapped up tales of derring do, especially the swashbuckling tales of Alexandre Dumas. With a group of like-minded teenagers he formed a group of ‘musketeers’ and became an accomplished fencer. Then, in 1944, at the tender age of 17, this imaginary world of the romance of bearing arms matured into reality; sword was exchanged for rifle. He enlisted in the Royal Scots, the senior regiment of the British Army. After a few weeks of training, he found himself on a troop ship bound for Burma.

He remained in the Far East from 1944 to 1947, first engaging with the Japanese enemy in Burma and Malaya, and then serving with the post-war garrison of Singapore. From there he went to India for the transition to Indian independence and partition. After being de-mobilised in 1947 he tried his hand at a variety of jobs in Hampshire (where his family had relocated) but, following his active service he found it difficult to adjust to civilian life. He re-joined the Army with the aim of becoming commissioned. He was halfway through his officer training at Eaton Hall in Cheshire when the Korean War flared up. Rather than complete the training and miss the action, he immediately volunteered for active service, this time with the Gloucestershire Regiment. After a few days of leave in early 1951 to marry Mary Bodman and share the briefest of honeymoons, he was on another troop ship, this time bound for Korea.

The heroic exploits of the Glorious Glosters at the Battle of the Imjin River (April 22-25, 1951) witnessed the largest loss of life by any British military force between 1945 and the present day. John Rae survived the battle by being left for dead on the field. He had not been shot, but had suffered a burst appendix causing him to collapse. He was spotted and rescued by an American helicopter and airlifted to a Norwegian MASH unit. Meanwhile, the British authorities listed him as “missing, presumed killed in action” and his wife received a telegram to this effect. On his return from Korea he marched with the surviving Glosters when they received the freedom of the City of Gloucester.

He then completed his officer training and was commissioned as a full lieutenant into the South Lancashire Regiment, soon being promoted to captain when the regiment was stationed at Catterick Camp. This marked his move to Yorkshire, where he would remain for the rest of his life.

Peacetime duties he found relatively dull, but he compensated for this by developing his shooting skills as one of the champion marksmen of the British Army. He won numerous awards and tournaments, both individually and leading a team. He was judged the champion of all three services for three years in succession, receiving the Hartley Challenge Cup from the hands of Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery of Alamein.

His most astonishing feat in an army shooting competition was when he won the Palatine Jewel by achieving a perfect target score despite worsening conditions of thick fog that had totally obscured the targets. He later explained this seemingly impossible achievement: as the fog rolled in he had taken various visual markers that enabled him to aim for and ‘see’ the unseen target.

Although committed to his army career, he could see that the peacetime army would soon be greatly downsized and transformed. So he left the regular army in 1958, settled in Ilkley, and went into business. He chose that most Scottish of commercial fields – insurance. After a brief spell with the Scottish Amicable he established in the centre of Leeds his own insurance broking firm: John Rae and Company, represented at Lloyds. Over a period of 40 years, until his retirement in 1998, this was to become one of the most respected insurance broking firms in the north of England, servicing major clients from all parts of the country.

In parallel with his business career he was gradually drawn – through the activities of his three children – into various forms of honorary support for the arts. The eldest, Elizabeth, became a ballet dancer, training at the Royal Ballet School. This led to him being instrumental in establishing the Yorkshire Ballet Seminars, which discovered and developed talents such as the Yorkshire-born dancer and choreographer, David Bintley, now director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet. His son, Charles, composer and conductor, studied the piano with Dame Fanny Waterman, as did the youngest, Caroline. This led to a long involvement with the Leeds International Piano Competition; he served as a member of the executive committee of the LIPC from the late 1970s until his death.

His other passion during these later years was the preservation of an architectural jewel in the centre of Leeds: The Leeds Club, in Albion Place. He was to serve as chairman of the Leeds Club from 1983 to his retirement in 1998.

John Rae leaves his wife, three children, and six grandchildren. After cremation at Lawnswood in North Leeds, his ashes will be interred at the Rae/MacRae ancestral burial ground of Clachan Duich in Kintail, Scotland, in accordance with the old MacRae maxim: “Look ye to the rock from whence ye are hewn”.