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A Message HOME - The Calling Blighty Films

‘Calling Blighty’ - Sheffield, York and South Yorkshire

The Calling Blighty series of 12 minute films, made in 1944-46, shows servicemen (and a very few women) in the Far East recording a message to be seen by their wives and families in local cinemas back home. – a sort of one way Skype of their day, these are remarkable and moving documents.

To help us find the Yorkshire families and identify the service personnel, click a button to take a look at these portrait galleries – some are named, but some names are still missing.  Please email if you find someone you know, or if you know something about the films!

Display Calling Blighty contributors from Sheffield Display Calling Blighty contributors from Yorkshire

This new project, by Prof Steve Hawley (Manchester School of Art), aims to trace relatives of as many as possible of some 190 Sheffield, York and South Yorkshire servicemen (and one woman), and hold a screening event at the Showroom Sheffield, where an edited highlights film will be screened, and clips of the servicemen will be shown to their relatives. Watch a short trailer here. 

Of the 391 issues made, only 64 are now known to survive, and nearly half of these are of the Greater Manchester area.  You can search the database for these here. Seven issues are of Sheffield servicemen, and have not been screened in public since their first showing – they are held on 35mm by the BFI.  A further two Calling Blighty issues have been identified in the Yorkshire Film Archive, with messages from York, Leeds and Doncaster.

In November 2015, a recreated screening event was held in Manchester at HOME, where over 70 of the Greater Manchester servicemen’s families were traced, and the films were shown for the first time in 70 years to an audience of relatives – and two living veterans.  This was a great success, with many tears and much laughter, and a packed house of 250.  The subsequent Channel 4 documentary about the project was broadcast in June 2016. Made by Oxford Scientific Films, the programme introduces us to five of the families we found and revealed their amazing stories. You can watch the documentary via Channel 4's on demand service here.

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