Doug Taffs served as a paratrooper in the Middle East, the Far East, South America and Northern Ireland, so he can be forgiven for wanting a peaceful resting place when he passes on.

The 70-year-old wanted to be laid to rest close to where he was born in Bexleyheath, but didn’t fancy being buried or cremated.

So he was delighted when Erith Cemetery, which had been closed to fresh earthen burials for 20 years, opened its new memorial terrace this summer.

The project has created room for 600 new graves at the site in Brook Street, with the construction of a series of stone mausoleums and sarcophagi on a north-facing slope too steep for conventional burials.

Doug, who lives close by in Bedonwell Road, has paid around £35,000 for a 75-year lease on three raised grey granite sarcophagi for him and his family.

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The grandfather-of-five told News Shopper: "Before I would have had to go to Welling to be buried.

"I don’t know Welling, I haven’t got a clue about Welling and I don’t want to go where I’m not used to.

"I know it doesn’t matter by the time you get in there and it seems a bit macabre but I’m delighted with what I’ve got."

The former construction engineer has helped design the sarcophagi and has had the Parachute Regiment insignia carved into the central one.

The structure will house him and his wife of nearly 50 years Jean, 68, and their daughter Toni, 47.

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The others are earmarked for son Matthew 44 and his wife Claire, 37, and youngest daughter Rebecca Inwood, 36, and her husband Gary, 44.

The Taffs family plot is next to one reserved for the sisters of the La Sainte Union convent, based in Bexleyheath.

Doug added: "I’ve got a few villains on one side and some nuns on the other so I’m in good company."

Bexley cemeteries officer Jo Pardon says Erith Cemetery, opened in 1894, is the first in the borough to feature above ground burials.

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Mausoleums at the new memorial terrace.

The memorial terrace was built by sarcophagus and mausoleum specialists Welters.

Mrs Pardon said: "People appreciate they put their own individual slant on the design.

"Those who have a connection to the cemetery have now been given an opportunity to be laid to rest where they want to be."

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