Journalist Ernie Pyle joins an infantry company in the desert of North Africa and also marches with them toward Rome.
Lt. Bill Walker (Robert Mitchum) lets a puppy and writer Ernie Pyle (Burgess Meredith) join his infantry on a truck. At night they listen to music on the radio. The next day a plane attacks the truck and kills one man. Ernie stays with them as they hike. Men ask him to mention their names in his column. He observes their baptism of fire. Walker learns that his men were over-run by tanks. They pull out and retreat. Ernie writes about defeat and combat experience.
Ernie Pyle finds his first company C marching toward Rome. Sgt. Steve Warnicki (Freddie Steele) gets a record of his child in the mail. Walker is now a captain. They fight in a devastated town. Dondaro (Wally Cassell) finds a woman and talks Italian to her. Shooting stops for a while, and then they kill three German snipers before moving on. They feed desperate people and give a boy chocolate. Ernie says he is 43. Showers are rigged with a platform and barrels. Warnicki asks for a phonograph, but people sing. Men carry Ernie to give away a bride to Murphy (John R. Reilly), and their honeymoon is in an ambulance.
They march on, and Walker sees a monastery he suspects is an observation post. Patrols go out in the rain and mud. Warnicki reports to Walker that three men were killed. Men want the monastery bombed, but it is considered a religious shrine. Men march out in the rain, and Ernie waits in the camp. Men tell Ernie that he won the Pulitzer Prize. He writes about who Murphy was. Walker orders a supply officer to get them turkey for Christmas. Ernie gets wine. Warnicki volunteers to lead a patrol in the rain so they can get home sooner. He comes back and declines turkey. Dondaro puts on perfume and leaves. Ernie gives Walker a drumstick, and they drink wine from a bottle. Walker says he has been writing too-letters to the parents. He feels like a murderer. Ernie says the GI lives miserably and dies miserably. Dondaro comes back, and Walker orders him to dig latrines. Planes bomb the monastery by Eisenhower's order, but the monastery becomes a Nazi fortress. Warnicki gets the phonograph to work, hears his child's voice, and says he will kill them all. Other men have to stop him, and Walker says to take him to the medics. Walker leads the men up the mountain.
They march on the road to Rome, and Ernie finds company C again. They watch men bring in corpses on horses and see that Walker is dead. The men march on. Ernie says they will win, and he hopes they will be able to put the world back together again in such a way that a great war will not be possible.
This grim portrayal of the misery of war shows the insanity
that it is. Ernie Pyle was respected for undergoing what he could
have avoided in order to tell the stories.