"Calling Blighty" films
Posted on 3rd Nov 2020 by Sarah Gray
"Calling Blighty" is a series of short films made between 1944 and 1946 of individual servicemen and women in the Far East sending personal messages home to their family and friends. These poignant filmed messages were shown in local cinemas to specially invited audiences. "A Message Home" is a project by the North West Film Archive to try to find as many families and veterans as possible, to bring them together to show the films again, and to tell their stories.
Of nearly 400 issues made, only 64 are known to survive. Of these, 26 feature service personnel from the Greater Manchester and wider North West areas and were found complete with the sheets of contact details showing the names and addresses of the family and friends who were invited to the screenings.
Alongside the attempt to trace people, a new artists’ film by Steve Hawley has been made, summing up these unique and compelling films. They are partly stilted, occasionally emotional, but mostly stiff upper lip testimonies, filmed direct to camera often in one take - sometimes funny, and always very moving. In some ways, they predict current video communications, but also offer a window on the understated courage of servicemen who had endured the long separation from their home – in both time and space – often since the start of the war.
North West Film Archive holds a database of the clips it has located to date. They are encouraging families or contacts of any of the featured servicemen and women to come forward or for individuals to get in contact if they know anything about any other "Calling Blighty" films. Please contact Marion Hewitt at the North West Film Archive by email or by calling 0161 247 3097.