Based on A. E. W. Mason's novel, a man is branded a coward for resigning from the army, but he proves it false by bravely rescuing his friends.
In 1885 Dr. Sutton (Frederick Culley) tells Gen. Faversham (Allan Jeayes) that the British lost Khartoum. At a dinner table Gen. Burroughs (C. Aubrey Smith) recalls the glory of the Crimean War at Balaclava, and Gen. Faversham denounces cowards, fearing his son is one.
Ten years later soldier Harry Faversham (John Clements) is engaged to Ethne Burroughs (June Duprez). Capt. John Durrance (Ralph Richardson) loves her too but realizes he lost her. After orders are given to go to the Sudan, Faversham resigns his commission, though the Colonel (Robert Rendel) calls him a coward. People cheer the departing regiment. Faversham tells Ethne he resigned, but she no longer agrees with his ideas and rejects him. Faversham receives three white feathers from John, Lt. Arthur Willoughby (Jack Allen), and Lt. Peter Burroughs (Donald Gray). Faversham takes a feather for Ethne too.
In Egypt Lord Kitchener asks for more men. Dr. Sutton agrees with Faversham that his duties at home are honorable. Faversham says his father believed him a coward, and he wonders if it's true. Dr. Sutton says he is not a coward. Faversham goes to Egypt and gets branded on his forehead, grows a beard, and wears a turban, working on the Nile. John collapses in the desert and is found; but he is blind. Muslims attack the camp. In the battle Faversham saves John from being killed and carries him to his tent but won't speak. Faversham stops John from shooting himself and takes care of him, looking for water. Dr. Sutton tells Ethne that Faversham left England a year ago. Faversham leads John to the Nile; he leaves a feather with John and is captured as an Arab for robbing him.
In England Ethne hopes she can make blind John happy and finds the feather in John's wallet. Captured Arthur and Peter are mocked by Arabs, but Faversham writes "Don't despair" on a flute. While drinking water he gives Peter a file and says "Tomorrow." Faversham is captured as a British spy and is whipped for not talking. Among the prisoners Peter and Arthur find Faversham, who plans their escape. Muslim cavalry attacks a British line and retreats. Faversham begins the escape. Muslims attack again and flee again. British attack the fortress and take Khartoum. Dr. Sutton calls on John but has no hope for his eyes. Dr. Sutton reads how prisoners Peter and Arthur led the capture of the arsenal. John realizes they were helped by Faversham. At the dinner table Ethne asks Faversham for her feather. Faversham corrects Gen. Burroughs' memory of the Balaclava charge and kisses Ethne.
While celebrating British imperialism and scorning cowardice,
this adventure drama shows how a sensitive person, who abhors
war, can be courageous with heroic initiative.