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Channel 4 seeks North West veterans and families for WWII documentary


Messages filmed by North West troops during World War II are to be made into a documentary for Channel 4.

Calling Blighty (working title) has come about after more than 600 video messages were discovered during renovations at Manchester Town Hall.

The 30 second films were recorded while the soldiers were serving in the Far East. They  were then sent home to be shown at local cinemas so that their families could see how they were doing.

Channel 4 and the North West Film Archive are hoping to track down veterans and their relatives to tell the story for a new documentary to be broadcast early next year.

The main reason for the filmed messages was because morale amongst troops stationed in India, Burma and Sri Lanka was so low. They were unable to take Home leave, post was slow and many letters never got home. They called themselves The Forgotten Army.

In order to prevent mutiny, the MoD set up the Calling Blighty project, with films sent back to the UK.

“These 25 films of the ‘Calling Blighty’ series from the Manchester area represent half of the cache remaining out of around 400 issues filmed,” said Steve Hawley, Professor at the Manchester School of Art.

“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.”

The 25 reels, featuring more than 600 servicemen from across the North West includes their names, ranks, regiments and serial numbers, plus paperworks with the names and addresses of their families.

The films are now available on a searchable database, following funding from Film Hub North West Central.

The documentary is produced by Oxford Scientific Films.

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