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I was in the Beanfield that day and I don't remember any of our lot throwing sticks or stones at the police . The order to smash up the convoy came directly from Thatcher so she was as responsible as the uniformed thugs who did it . Half of them were squaddies from the local army camps who had been offered a bit of overtime doing some hippy bashing . They fitted them out with plain blue boiler suits and police gear
Hundreds of Geordie, Scots and Yorkshire mining families with sons or brothers in the Army (the growth in unemployment and the imbalance of wealth and industry in favour of the South, left only the pits, the dole or the Armed Forces as a means of living) swear to having seen their relations in police uniforms on the picket lines. Some swear that they have seen them face to face and spoke to them, while others say they have seen them clearly on TV. In all cases the army has described the stories as 'rubbish'. Though pit folk involved swear to their accuracy, no proof has yet emerged and the story remains a widely believed folk tale.
The nearest we got to actually putting meat on the bones of the story came when a young parachutist walked into the Bamsley Offices of the NUM to 'give himself up'. His story is as follows. His mother was a paraplegic his father a life long (though now retired) mineworker. He had joined the Parachute Regiment and was attached to a Special Forces Group. For the previous two months he had been in operation on the picket lines with a number of soldiers from different groups. He wore a police sergeant's uniform when on these duties. Officials at Bamsley discussed the question with the lad and subsequently involved people from our legal department to try and establish the possible come back on the soldier if, as he had requested, made a public statement or had a press conference. Despite all warnings of probably military and legal action against him, the soldier agreed to go ahead and the Barnsley offices started talking in terms of a press conference: Sadly a day or two later, the soldier returned, he had suffered yet another setback, a tragedy. His father had been coal picking along the railway line and had been struck by a train and lost a leg. His mother was now totally helpless, his father not in a position to fend for himself or his wife, so he would take a compassionate leave from the services. The question of a press conference, legal retaliation with all the social and political furore which would follow was now unthinkable.
You can take this story as it was given, personally I believe the bloke, but how extensive the Army involvement has been will probably remain a secret until the granting of a 'Freedom of Information Act' or a sympathetic Civil Servant leaks the relevant document of instruction to some head of the Forces.
Our frustrating failure to find real evidence still leaves certain strange facts laying around. One is, as said, the huge number of men in police uniforms which seemed to come from nowhere and vanish away again _t the end of the dispute.
The number of police uniform clad characters who were clearly under regulation height, was not only a delight for some of our pickets but also a source of amusement to many of our women folk who lost no time in ridiculing the 'unshaved bairns' and 'dwarfs'. Many heard officers addressing underlings as 'corporal' (a rank which doesn't exist in the police force) and some of the uniforms, apart from being totally ill fitting, stepped straight out of the police museum. Strange, double-breasted jackets with different colour trousers, ancient 'Dixon of Dock Green' Helmets etc.
For many such reasons we have suspected Army involvement. . .
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We also know the thug element of the army were given police uniforms and free reign to attack people at will. When it looked like the miners were winning in stepped the truck drivers who crossed picket lines and destroyed the union. Many thought the government would see the haulage industry as heroes. We know the truth. many bought wagons to make their fortunes but I am glad to say many failed and paid a high price for their treachery. The blacklist was quickly drawn up and people could not get work. It has split families and even today the hatred is still there. I hope the police who caused injury and the mercenaries are named and shamed publicly get their comeuppance.