A platoon moves up to fight at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. They suffer casualties, winter snow, and are surrounded by Germans before being relieved.
In December 1944 Sergeant Kinnie (James Whitmore) drills soldiers. Private Holley (Van Johnson) returns from the hospital to the platoon. Pop Stazak (George Murphy) says he is being discharged to help his family. Kinnie says they are moving up in trucks.
Denise (Denise Darcel) invites them to come in, and Holley dances with her. Private Donald Jarvess (John Hodiak) translates and says the children are orphans. Others pull back, and they move up. They are shot at and dig some holes but move again.
They wake in the snow. Private Jim Layton (Marshall Thompson) learns his friend was killed. Kinnie has freezing feet and sends Holley, Jarvess, and Private Johnny Roderigues (Ricardo Montalban) to find German paratroopers. They check soldiers with a pass word and questions. They fight and kill a few Germans. Roderigues is shot. Holley and Jarvess report they saw German tanks. Kinnie gets permission from Lt. Teiss to call in artillery. Private Walowicz (Bruce Cowling) is wounded and gives his helmet to Holley before being evacuated. They find that Roderigues is dead.
They read about the strategic withdrawal from the bulge. Pop gets his papers to go, but Private Kippton (Douglas Fowley) says they are surrounded. The man standing guard is killed, and a battle begins. Holley and Layton run across a railroad track and set up a cross fire. The platoon kills some Germans and captures others. They carry wounded Private Hansan (Herbert Anderson) on a stretcher.
Morphine is gone, and a nurse gives Hansan liquor. Private Bettis (Richard Jaeckel) is working in the kitchen. Holley and Layton drink with Denise. Four Germans with a white flag ask them to surrender within two hours. They say no. Leaflets dropped offer hot chow. The chaplain (Leon Ames) holds a service and says their fighting the fascists is justified. They pray during bombing.
Their tanks lack ammunition and gas. Germans bomb Bastogne. The walking wounded are given rifles. Kinnie is ordered to pull back, but they have nowhere to go. In foxholes they fix bayonets. Kinnie sees the sun, and Allied planes arrive and drop parachutes with supplies. Ammunition helps them win, and they are relieved by fresh forces. Kinnie has them fall in and march back with high morale.
This realistic drama portrays a platoon during one of
the toughest battles for the Americans in the European War. Despite
deplorable conditions their spirit and humor keep each other going.