A Message HOME - The Calling Blighty Films
‘Calling Blighty’ - Brighton
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 families and friends 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, working with Screen Archive South East (SASE) and the Imperial War Museum (IWM), we have added five Calling Blighty issues from the Brighton area. These are in the collection of the IWM, and have been digitised by them to enable us to add them to the online database.
These 5 issues [numbers 89, 151, 180, 285 and 391] feature 123 Brighton men, and one woman. To help us find the families and identify the service personnel, click this Brighton 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 anything about the films!
This fourth phase of our project, following the Greater Manchester, Sheffield/Yorkshire, and Birkenhead messages, aims to trace relatives of as many as possible of these 124 Brighton service personnel and their descendants. We held a successful screening event of the Brighton messages – the first time the films had been shown to a public audience since their original screening 75 years ago! - on Sunday 16th June 2019 at the Sallis Benney Theatre, University of Brighton. The screening was attended by friends and relatives of local service personnel who had been discovered through the project, the Mayor of Brighton and members of the public. We screened selected messages from many of the surviving Calling Blighty issues, and a special compilation of highlights from the Brighton films. The scene was set with an evocative short film of scenes of Brighton during WW2, and a talk on the background to the making of the Calling Blighty films. We had time after the screening to get together to share stories over tea and cakes in the cafe.
There are now 940 service personnel in the database, and we have found 140 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 is connected
- know something about the films or the original screening
Please 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. One Birkenhead issue, seven issues from Sheffield servicemen, and two Calling Blighty issues from the Yorkshire Film Archive, with messages from York, Leeds and Doncaster 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 several times since. Made by Oxford Scientific Films, the programme introduces us to five of the families we found and revealed their amazing stories. .