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Plan for troops to dig graves during ‘winter of discontent’

The Telegraph | December 30, 2009

Secret plans for troops to dig graves for the bodies left unburied during the “winter of discontent” were considered, previously unpublished government papers show.

But officials dropped the idea amid fears of “unseemly scenes” if soldiers clashed with pickets outside cemetery gates.

The spectacle of bodies going unburied by striking gravediggers in Liverpool and Manchester came to sum up the industrial anarchy of the winter of 1978 under Jim Callaghan’s Labour government .

A paper drawn up in January 1979 warned that 500 funerals had to be postponed, and that while bodies could be stored for up to six weeks in heat-sealed bags, this was “totally unacceptable for aesthetic reasons”.

The option of bringing in troops was floated. But the MoD opposed the idea on the grounds that it would be viewed with “distaste” by the local populations in important recruiting areas for the forces.

Eventually officials suggested that people find their own unofficial burial sites. The idea was put forward reluctantly.

December 31, 2009 - Posted by | Economics

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