Based on the true story of Sergeant-Major Charlie Coward (played by Dirk Bogarde) during World War II, this conventional wartime drama does not convincingly put across Coward's heroism, or his seemingly impossible exploits. A German POW and leader in Stalag 8B, Coward finds ways to humiliate his German captors whenever he can, but most importantly he and the men under him are working out an escape. They have already dug out a 280-foot tunnel, and now Coward has to somehow reach the Polish resistance fighters in order to get the necessary maps and money before exiting through the tunnel. To that end, he gets put in charge of prisoners at a lumber yard, burns the place down, blames it on a German officer, and manages to get an afternoon off in town if he does not rat on the officer. That time off allows him to contact the resistance movement and get the supplies he needs. And this is only the beginning of several adventures that Coward somehow survives.