Black and white photo of National Service recruits walking in a line. They are carrying their belongings over their shoulders and in their arms. They are dressed in uniforms, with some wearing coats. There is a brick building behind them.

The last National Serviceman

Richard Vaughan was called up for his National Service in 1960. He was demobbed on 16 May 1963, making him the last National Serviceman to complete his service in the UK.  

Richard Vaughan was 22 years old when he was called up for his National Service, after deferring until he had completed his exams and qualified as a charted accountant.  

Black and white photograph of three rows of men in British Army uniforms sat down on chairs to have their photo taken.
R.A.P.C Training Centre - Richard is in the back row, third from the right

He had hoped to join either the Royal Air Force or the Royal Navy, but by 1960, only the Army was recruiting National Servicemen in significant numbers.  

And so, on 17 November 1960 he was posted to the Royal Army Pay Corps’ barracks at Devizes, Wiltshire, as part of no 277 National Service Intake.  

This made him one of the last conscripts to be called up.  

Black and white photograph of National Service aircrew walking through an airfield past a Canberra jet.
National Service aircrew walk past a Canberra jet
Black and white photo of National Service recruits scaling a nine foot brick wall. Some are being hoisted over the wall by others. Black and white photo of troops walking in a line about to board the troopship 'Nevasa'. The are carrying suitcases and other beloongings. We can see the ship behind them, with some people looking down from the top of the ship.. Black and white photograph of National Servicemen on parade.

Posting in Germany

In 1961, Richard was transferred to the British Army of the Rhine in Mönchengladbach, Germany, close to the Netherlands. 

Army life in Germany seemed more “regimental” to Richard, who at this point had become an officer. However, he still enjoyed a certain level of friendliness with the men under his command.  

Richard was very active, and in 1962, he was selected to compete on behalf of the British Army in an event to celebrate the liberation of Hoogeveen by Canadian troops in 1945. 

Whilst in Germany, Richard also took the opportunity to view the Berlin Wall, which was then under construction: 


“I remember going into Berlin and seeing all this building going on. I had to go along the motorway [that linked West Germany to Berlin] and through the official checkpoints.  


 “I went and had a lovely time, because it was towards the end of my National Service.” 

Demobilization in 1963 

In October 1962, Richard was told that the last intake of National Servicemen, which included him and his team, were to have their service extended by another six months. 


It was down to Richard to inform his men of this change, something he didn’t relish at the time.  


With no choice but to continue, Richard was not demobbed until May 1963, by which time he had been promoted to full Lieutenant.  

Black and white photo of a National Service recruit having his hat fitted. Others are lined up behind him. We can see some posters on the wall to the side of them.
National Service recruits at Caterham

He chose to be demobbed in England, and travelled back to Gatwick in his uniform, along with other National Servicemen who were all in civilian clothes.  

The reception they received upon their return was unexpected. Arriving at the airport, the men were met by the press, and Richard, still in uniform was interviewed by Southern Television as ‘the last national serviceman’.  

The next day, 16 May 1963, Richard was officially demobbed.  

Looking back at his National Service, Richard says: “It was a bit of an adventure”.  

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