Military advice on burying the dead after nuclear attack

In August 1979, the Ministry of Defence published the “Joint Service Manual of Home Defence”. This document, classified as Restricted, provided instructions to the UK armed forces on the defence of the UK in the event of a war, with a strong focus on nuclear attack.

“It may seem pedantic in the aftermath of a nuclear attack to require that deaths and burials are recorded…”

Part of the military aid it was envisaged they would provide to the civil authorities was assisting with the burial of the dead. The manual insists scrupulous records should be kept, and even provides a form to complete for each corpse.

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A Nuclear Free Europe?

The line between public information and propaganda can be quite thin, but this little leaflet is pretty solidly in the latter camp.

Published in 1982 by the Ministry of Defence’s Public Relations division, ‘A Nuclear Free Europe?’ set out their view that the call for a Europe free from nuclear weapons was unrealistic.

The cover shows an unidentified cold, grey mountain range – a hint at the reason ‘why it wouldn’t work’ – the subtitle of the leaflet.

The design of the leaflet itself, which opens up from the centre, has quite an impact. It would be reasonable to expect, on opening the cover, to find several detailed arguments inside.

Instead, you’re presented with just one point.

The Ural mountain range, which forms a north-south belt across Russia, traditionally marks the eastern boundary of Europe. Even if the USSR had moved its nuclear weapons to a position technically outside of Europe, most of Europe – including Britain – would still be within range of nuclear attack.

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SOXMIS and BRIXMIS – ‘legal spying’ on the front lines of the Cold War

Shortly after the Second World War, with the partition of Germany into four Allied zones, the four former allies – Britain, the US, France and the USSR – set up ‘military liaison missions’.

These diplomatic organisations were designed to encourage dialogue and understanding between the powers now operating within Germany. In reality, they ended up providing the perfect opportunity to carry out intelligence-gathering missions in plain sight.

The British and Soviet missions, BRIXMIS and SOXMIS, were the first to be established with the Robertson-Malinin Agreement on 16th September 1946. (Officially, BRIXMIS was the British Commanders’-in-Chief Mission to the Soviet Forces in Germany, but that’s a bit more of a mouthful.)

The French and US militaries also set up their own military liaison missions, known as La Mission Militaire Française de Liaison – MMFL (or FMLM in English) – and USMLM. However, BRIXMIS was bigger than both, and the exploits of BRIXMIS and SOXMIS played out as one of the more curious stories of Cold War diplomacy.

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