Adapted from Harry Brown's novel, an infantry platoon lands at Salerno, walks six miles, and takes a defended farmhouse.
In 1943 soldiers talk in a landing craft in the dark. The lieutenant has been wounded, and they need to contact the captain. They land on the beach without opposition and wait in the dark. At dawn Archimbeau (Norman Lloyd) says he could not find Halverson but that McWilliams (Sterling Holloway) said that the lieutenant is dying. Sergeant Eddie Porter (Herbert Rudley) says they should start moving, and Sergeant Bill Tyne (Dana Andrews) stays behind. McWilliams finds Tyne and says that the lieutenant and Halverson are dead. Tyne sees six planes, and McWilliams goes to see the beach. McWilliams is strafed and is killed. Men in the woods are strafed too.
Tyne finds the others in the woods. They examine a map and have six miles to go. Wounded Giorgio is to stay there. Porter commands the men to move out in three squads under Kramer, Ward (Lloyd Bridges), and Tyne. They walk on an open road and take cover from a plane. Smith is wounded. Porter says he has a headache, and Tyne suggests they avoid the road and walk in the ditch. Porter agrees. They find two Italian soldiers. Pinelli translates and says they ran away, though one says he killed a German. Tyne asks questions about the map. Rivera (Richard Conte) says the Italians got suckered into trying to boss the world, and now they don't even own their own country.
They go on, and Porter asks Tyne to take over. A jeep and motorcycle stop and then go to scout for them. Tyne sends bazooka-men ahead. Porter tells Ward that Tyne is taking over. Porter lies down and cries. An enemy armored car goes by. Tyne plans an ambush for its return. The car comes back, and they attack it, knocking it off the road. Tyne tells Judson to stay with Porter. Tyne learns that the bazookas got two tanks and an armored car but lost some men. As they walk, Rivera talks about traveling salesmen, and Ward says he keeps seeing an apple. They hide as they approach the farmhouse. Ward says he will lead the patrol and takes volunteers. Shooting comes from the house, and they come back. Windy gives Tyne an idea and will go by the river with Ward. Tyne sends a note to machine-gunner Rivera. Tyne leads an assault crawling across a field. Then they run toward the house and take it. Ward comes out of the house eating an apple. They have accomplished their objective and continue their march.
Lewis Milestone directed this drama that portrays the
grim reality of war-fighting on the ground. Although they suffer
a few casualties, this is clearly the viewpoint of the winning
side in a deadly, horrible contest.