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Steve MacKendrick (Alan Ladd), nicknamed "Canada" because that is where he claims he is from, volunteers in 1940 for the British Army's paratroop school. He obviously has a good deal more background and leadership skills than he lets on. Canada tries to become better acquainted with a pretty parachute rigger named Penny Gardner (Susan Stephen). She is initially put off by his attitude, but they eventually start dating. Both Penny and his new commander, Major Snow (Leo Genn), see potential (and a mystery that does not add up) in him, despite his strong efforts to avoid assuming any responsibility. Canada turns down Snow's offer to send him to officer school.After completing parachute school, Canada's unit goes on a raid (based on real-life Operation Biting) on the German radar station at Bruneval. An RAF radar expert, Sergeant Box, accompanies the raiders to retrieve a key component to take back to Britain. The mission is a success.Back in Britain, Canada is recognised by an American airman. He tells Penny that he resigned his commission from the USAAF after ordering his best friend and co-pilot to parachute out of their bomber when an experimental rocket gets stuck. When his friend's parachute does not open properly and he is killed, Canada blames himself and refuses any responsibility that might endanger anyone's life. When Snow confronts Canada with what he has learned (from a security investigation that he has ordered), Canada wrongly assumes Penny told what she learned, and he breaks up with her.The unit's next operation involves taking and destroying an airfield at Bône during the invasion of North Africa. With Major Snow wounded and the men trapped in a minefield, Canada must risk others to extricate the unit. Afterward, Canada and Penny become reconciled.