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A Message HOME - The Calling Blighty Films

‘Calling Blighty’ - BIRKENHEAD

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. We are delighted to announce that a new issue has been found recently in Wirral Archives and that it has been digitised for the us by the Imperial War Museum.

Issue 266 features 25 Birkenhead men, 22 of whom send a message home - to help us find the families and identify the service personnel, click the Birkenhead button to take a look at these clips – some are named, but some names are still missing. Please get in touch if you find someone you know, or if you know something about the films!

Display Calling Blighty contributors from Birkenhead

This third phase of our project, following the Greater Manchester and Sheffield/Yorkshire messages, aims to trace relatives of as many as possible of these 25 Birkenhead servicemen and their descendants, and hold a screening event for them, and the public, at Birkenhead Town Hall (this took place on Thursday 18th October 2018). This is the very same venue where an invited audience of families saw the film soon after Christmas 1944. We screened the whole Birkenhead film alongside some highlights from the Calling Blighty series, and footage of Merseyside during World War 2.

There are over 800 service personnel in the database, and we have found over 125 families so far – help us to find more, and reconnect them to the messages!

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 screening
- want to come to the free screening on 18th October (ticketing tbc)
You can contact Marion Hewitt at the North West Film Archive by email or by calling 0161 247 3097.

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 a further two Calling Blighty issues have been identified in the Yorkshire Film Archive, with messages from York, Leeds and Doncaster - these are also available in our database.

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.  A subsequent Channel 4 documentary about the project was broadcast in June 2016, and repeated. 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.