North West Film Archive
NWFA Homepage

A Message HOME - The Calling Blighty Films


Secret History – Messages Home: Lost Films of the British Army

A new Channel 4 documentary about our project was broadcast on Sunday 26th June. Made by Oxford Scientific Films, the programme introduced us to five of the families we found and revealed their amazing stories. Tell us what you think by emailing blighty@mmu.ac.uk

Calling Blighty TV Programme


Calling Blighty is a series of short films made in 1944-46 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 the mixed laughter and tears of the specially invited audiences. A Message Home is a project 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 48 are known to survive. Of these, 23 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. You can find here a searchable database of over 600 names, with clips.


Alongside the attempt to trace people, a new artists’ film by Steve Hawley is being 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 a way, they predict video communications such as Skype, 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.


This new film, and some of the original Calling Blighty issues, was screened on Monday 23rd November 2015 at HOME – Manchester’s new cross arts venue. We are also planning other screenings around Greater Manchester later in the year. The project appreciates the support of Manchester School of Art, HOME, Imperial War Museums, Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society and Archives+


Do you know any of these servicemen and women?


We'd love to find out as much as we can about these films so please do tell us if you
- belong to one of the families
- know of someone who does
- know something about the films or the original screenings (for example, we're not always sure of the date or the location of the films)
- want to come to a screening later in the year
You can contact Marion Hewitt at the North West Film Archive by emailing blighty@mmu.ac.uk or by calling 0161 247 3097.


You can write to us at:
North West Film Archive
Manchester Central Library
PO Box 532
Albert Square
Manchester M60 2LA


Or visit us in Archives+ at Manchester Central Library, St Peter's Square, Manchester M2 5PD.