Moving archive footage from the Second World War shows British serviceman posted in the Far East giving touching messages to their loved ones back home.
In newly released footage from Manchester Metropolitan University, young soldiers are seen nervously coming up to the camera one-by-one to send back voice messages to their wives, children, parents and girlfriends.
The collection, named The Calling Blighty, consists of 12-minute clips from more than 800 personnel from Manchester and the North-West of England.
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On a canteen-style backdrop in Bombay, one soldier from Oldham said to his wife: ‘Give the kiddies my love and a great big hug. I hope it is not long until I’m back at home with you.’
‘It’s great to be able to speak to you like this and let you see and hear me after being away for two years,’ another said.
One troop identified as Drinkwater stood with two other men fitted in their broad-brim hats under the sweltering Indian sun.
And he dedicated his message to his beloved wife. Drinkwater said he couldn’t complain about the food but he misses good ‘old fish and chips’ and cold pints of beer.
Joseph Pinnington (pictured) joked that the two children beside him ‘weren’t his’ as he delivered a comical – yet heartfelt – speech to his wife back home
‘Keep the bed warm until I come back home and then we’ll get up them stairs,’ he joked.
From thanking their mothers for letters to voicing their desire to reconnect with their loved ones and hugging their children, the intimate messages offer a glimpse into a distant world.
One serviceman told his parents that recording his message was ‘the opportunity he’d been waiting for’.
The films, which were produced by the Directorate for Army Welfare in 1944-46, were screened at local cinemas for those on the home-front.
A spokesman from North West Film Archive Marion Hewitt said the Calling Blighty films were made to improve ‘morale’ for troops and their families.
She said many of the servicemen didn’t see their family and friends for as long as six years.
Ms Hewitt told Mail Online: ‘[The films] were crucial to keeping their spirits up for everyone to believe that both the men and their families were coping, and keeping their chins up.’
One black and white video in a Bombay military base showed individual men walking up to the camera and stiltedly delivering their messages back home.
Unearthed footage taken during the Second World War reveal British servicemen posted in the Far East give touching personal messages to their loved ones back home. Cecil Rhodes (pictured) paid a tribute to his wife. He said: ‘How’s this for a war time miracle and a novel way of saying “I love you?”‘
After the moving testimonies, the camera pans to the men waving and cheering around the piano while listening to one man named Harry play ‘Jungle Swing.’
Speaking back to his partner, one man said: ‘Kat darling keep smiling until the blue skies come along and we’ll be together then.’
Cecil Rhodes also gave a touching déclaration d’amour to his wife Joy.
‘How’s this for a war time miracle and a novel way of saying “I love you.”‘
While he said his looks might have changed during his time abroad, Rhodes said he is still the same at heart.
‘However I look I am still the same in heart and mind and longings. And full of appreciation of your own grand affection.
Another man said: ‘I really wish I could see you and I don’t mean on the screen either.’
Besides letters, the piece-to-camera style films were the closest thing to ‘personal contact’ between soldiers and their loved ones for more than two years during the Second World War.
According to a statement by North West Film, the collection of personal video messages was like a ‘Skype’ of their day
They said that they were happy to digitise the old footage, along with the Imperial War Museum, to bring back to life the ‘remarkable and moving’ servicemen testimonies.
Marion Hewitt told Mail Online: ‘For ordinary men and women to appear in a film at all was unusual, and this was probably the first time that their authentic, unscripted voices were heard on any film.’
In one clip, a troop tells his partner he hopes that the war will be nothing more than a ‘memory’ in time.
‘Hello Peta darling. This is a great opportunity of making almost personal contact […] I’m hoping it won’t be long until it will all be over and it will be just a memory,’ he said.
Serviceman Drinkwater (pictured) dedicated his personal message to his wife and said jokingly, ‘Keep the bed warm until I come back home and then we’ll get up them stairs’
Serviceman Gallagher mumbled with a pipe in his mouth as he joked about ‘being missed’ by his poor parents.
‘It must be nice to hear my charming voice again after all these years,’ he said.
While Gallagher said he felt fit and healthy, he admitted ‘I won’t be sorry to say goodbye to India.’
Short clips of more than 800 service men are currently kept in the database.
So far, more than 133 families have been identified and reconnected through the archival footage.
A spokesman from North West Film Archive, said families who have identified their fathers and grandfathers through the archive have said it is a ‘wonderful’ initiative.
Marion Hewitt told Mail Online, ‘A number of people have said is that it is wonderful to see and hear their father when he was young, to recognise gestures and mannerisms and to appreciate the sincerity of his message.
‘Sometimes, a man may have died in action or of disease after the film was shot and before it was screened back in Blighty, and whilst photographs are great, having the moving image brings them back to life so much more vividly.’
Ms Hewitt said it was a ‘tough act’ for some men who wanted to show their families they were coping.
Ms Hewitt said: ‘I think they would have wanted to put on a confident show for their families, to convince them they were really okay, and they have this one chance so they need to get it right first time!
‘Sometimes a nervousness creeps in though, and they betray their feelings and their words falter. In looking for the right words, they often use the expressions familiar from letters, and very few speak for very long before they dry up and say goodbye and introduce the next person.’
If you know any of the men and women in these videos, you can head to The North West Film Archive website to find out more.