Films

Calling Blighty



Archive: Wessex Film & Sound Archive
ID No.: AV7/10
Title: Calling Blighty
Date: 1944
Film-maker: Army Film Unit
Colour: Black & White
Sound: Sound
Duration of complete item: 12 min. 42 sec.
Themes: Home & Family Life

Summary:

One of the ‘Calling Blighty’ series of films made by the Army Film Unit in India to provide visual messages from British Armed Service personnel to their relatives and friends back home. This one was shown at the Classic Cinema, Southampton on 30 April 1944 for an invited audience.

Description:

The film is taken in an army canteen. Two servicemen meet and shake hands, saying "Hello ....alright". A Sailor pops up, and turns to the camera with a message for parents, followed by a succession of other servicemen with similar messages. The film ends with the servicemen grouped around a piano, singing and waving.

A transcript is available of dialogue from the clip used on this site.

Context:

This is one of two 35mm nitrate films deposited by Southampton City Record Office, along with other material of local interest, which were subsequently duplicated on to safety film. The original of ‘Calling Blighty’ was then transferred to the Imperial War Museum Film & Video Archive. Only a small number of this series have survived, none of which came from any official military source, and are now held by the Archive. Regional film archives have discovered some of these, which had been kept by local authorities hitherto, many unaware of the dangers of nitrate film. Another film in the series was recently deposited at WFSA by Bournemouth Borough Council.

The ‘Calling Blighty’ series was made by the Directorate of Army Welfare in India, at a time when our service personnel stationed there regarded themselves as ‘the Forgotten Army’. Home leave was not possible, because of the distances involved, and the post was slow and erratic. Sending cinematic letters home to loved ones was an attempt to overcome this sense of isolation, at least for some servicemen and women. The story of this initiative is told in more detail in Paul Sargent’s article in the Imperial War Museum Review, no. 7, pp23-33.

Back at home, these films were very well received by relatives and friends, and did much to boost morale. The above film was seen by a journalist from the Southampton Evening Echo, whose report appeared in the newspaper next day. It was headlined “Bobby sees his Daddy on the screen”, referring to a little boy in the cinema audience who responded “Yes, Daddy” when his father said to camera “Can you see me Bobby?” The report went on to say that some found the film very exciting, whilst others got very emotional (not surprisingly). The Mayor of Southampton was present at the screening, which included other films about India, and treated the audience to tea afterwards.

Calling Blighty (1944)

Calling Blighty (1944)

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