Command Decision (1948) Movie Script

Preceding today's American operations...
...heavy bombers of the Royal Air Force
made a night attack...
...on the important
marshaling yard at Hamm.
Of all British operations...
...only 12 of our aircraft failed to return.
Any questions from the correspondents?
Major Davenport.
Ladies and gentlemen...
...I have only limited news
on today's American air operations.
In the deepest penetration to date,
strong formations of Flying Fortresses...
...were dispatched well beyond the range
of friendly fighter cover... attack key industrial objectives
in Germany.
An early estimate indicates that upward
of 200 German fighters were destroyed.
Forty-eight of our bombers are missing.
That's all at the present time,
ladies and gentlemen.
Let's get out of here.
What do you expect us to write when we
don't even know the name of the target?
Would it be tactless to inquire
what kind of industrial objectives?
"Key industrial objectives."
A fine comfort for a lot of new widows
back home.
What do you suppose is there, Brockie?
Is there any one target in Germany
worth 48 bombers?
Worth it to whom?
Casey Dennis?
What's 48 bombers?
- Hello, Brockie.
- Hello.
- Hello, Carwood.
- Hi.
Good evening, constable.
Maybe they're after something special.
If it's that, I'm willing to be shown.
For my money, it's Dennis that's special.
- Taxi.
- What's the answer, Brockie?
All guts and no brain?
No, that's putting it too simply.
Dennis is one of those boys
whose brain is fascinated by guts.
He loves this lousy war.
The Savoy. Then King's Cross Station.
If Dennis throws you in the guardhouse,
we'll bail you out.
It's been a long while
since I've talked to the boys.
- Tell the boss I'll phone soon as I get there.
- Right.
Another big one out today?
You ain't kidding.
They're putting everything up that can fly.
Thought the boys might have drawn
a stand-down after yesterday.
- Not with old iron butt driving the wagon.
- Who?
Who do you think? Dennis.
That's the one we seen
come in yesterday, sir.
I don't know who was flying it.
Pilot, dead. Copilot, wounded.
About five of them bailed out.
You better drive around the other side.
Yes, sir.
What do you think this is,
a sheet-metal shop?
The old man wanted to have this
as soon as I'd done it.
Do you think
we're gonna get rest tomorrow?
I don't know. They ain't said yet.
But he can't keep this up.
In that case, maybe this is the night
I could get that date with Joan.
You know she don't
like to date nobody but me.
Three pounds ten,
and I'll stay home.
How long will you stay home?
You said 2.10 yesterday.
The price has gone up.
So has the price of whiskey.
Fork over.
Do you usually take her something
or do you just go by yourself?
Well, if I was you,
I'd take her some peanuts.
Especially if I was you.
General Dennis' office.
What? He is? Thanks, Mike.
Beat it.
Hello, Harry.
The tower at the 32nd just called.
The old man's coming in.
Better break it up, you guys,
the old man's back.
Good afternoon, sir.
- Got the signal, Evans?
- Not yet, sir.
The estimated time
over target is 12:11.
- Yesterday's strike photo's been plotted?
- Right there, sir.
Right on it. Good.
- I want a set of these for General Kane.
- Yes, sir.
- Anything else?
- Well, sir... this batch of DFCs
approved by General Kane...
...there's one for Captain Lucius Jenks.
- Jenks?
Colonel Haley said
you wanted to see his file, sir.
Call the 32nd and tell them
I want Captain Jenks here.
Yes, sir.
And there was this correspondent,
you know the one...
I have no time.
Tell Public Relations to handle him.
Yes, sir.
- Flying control. That's right.
- I'll call you as soon as I...
- Bring me all reports on enemy opposition.
- Yes, sir.
That's it. Baker-One-Seven,
High Hat, C-Charlie.
Very likely there'll be more.
Aircrew should hardly get their feet wet.
Yes. Thanks, chum.
- Strike signal?
- Still sweating it out.
RAF Mosquitoes have reported
a formation of U.S. Fortresses...
...under very heavy fighter attack
15 miles east of Braunschweig.
What's your report
on morale, Haley?
After the last two days,
they're too tired to bother about morale.
How many crews are making
their last mission today?
Eleven, if they get back, sir.
Then we lose them anyway.
Ted should have
his bomb-bay doors open right now.
Strike signal from
7th Combat Wing, sir.
Primary attacked. Visibility, perfect.
Results, excellent.
Well, that's two out of three.
That leaves just one to go.
- Check that with command.
- Yes, sir.
Davis, any changes
in your 1400 weather map?
Well, there's an interesting cold mass
forming eccentrically over the Arctic Sea.
Never mind the genealogy.
How will it affect us?
Weather along the coastal fringes
in southern France should be...
I'm not interested in France.
What about central
and northern Germany?
Right here.
Way in there again, sir?
Three days running?
Major, I'm consulting you
about the weather.
Sorry, sir.
It should be wide open
all the way to Breslau.
Good at our bases all day.
I want all leaves canceled
until we know today's losses.
Yes, sir.
That's all, gentlemen. Thank you.
Then are we to understand, sir,
we'll have...
...another maximum effort tomorrow?
- That's right.
Keep bringing me that weather
as you get it.
Well, what headaches
have you got, Earnie?
Have you been getting any sleep, Casey?
You're not pretty enough for a nurse.
What have you got?
Well, there's a rather stiff protest here, sir,
from a Robert Hintonbottom.
President of the Middle Counties Association
of Farmers, Dairymen and Poulters.
It seems these early take-offs
have been frightening the cows...
...around Colonel Foster's base
and drying up the milk.
He also says it's been disturbing
the chickens.
They're not laying like they used to.
Write him a polite letter, tell him
we're trying to lay a few eggs of our own.
Yes, sir.
- What is it, Evans?
- Message from General Kane, sir. Secret.
Read it.
"Members Military Affairs Committee
arrived in England.
Your command will be visited.
Imperative their impressions favorable.
Request your special efforts
to maintain low loss average...
...during critical three days next.
Signed, Malloway for Kane."
All right. Wait a minute.
What else, Earnie?
There's this matter of Captain Donford
and Miss Blundy in the village, sir.
- What about it?
- She and her mother are pretty keen...
...that she should marry him.
What about the boy?
Does he wanna marry her?
I don't know, sir, but he's got
one wife already in the States.
Is he combat crew or base personnel?
Navigator. Got 10 missions left to go.
Thanks. Do we know the woman?
Oh, I know her, sir.
I beg your pardon, sir.
I'm not surprised. Any suggestion?
Excuse me, sir.
Would the general like to square...
...that is, have this matter attended to
by negotiations, sir?
If it can be done.
I'd have to have an order
for a couple of gallons of ice cream...
...and a few hours off, sir.
Get it and get going.
With the general's permission, sir.
These matters are better attended to
in the evening.
All right.
Anything else?
You and Cliff Garnet were classmates,
weren't you?
Yeah, why?
He's flying over here from Washington.
Due in at Prestwick this afternoon.
Did you know that?
Cliff Garnet.
I've known Cliff ever since we were racing
for a pair of corporal stripes at the Point.
I thought you'd always been
sort of neck and neck.
What's he doing over here?
They haven't announced
an assignment for him.
Maybe you're gonna have
a new boss, Earnie.
- A relay from Colonel Martin, sir.
- What's it say?
"Target plastered. Warm up here.
Signed, Ted."
I'll bet it's pretty warm
in Schweinhafen too.
Get me London, Central 10,000.
Elmer Brockhurst, United News.
Yes, sir.
Everything's under control, sir.
- What are you doing here, Mr. Brockhurst?
- Hello?
Your connections are terrible.
Hello, Maggie. Give me Bigelow.
Hello, Jack. Brockhurst.
I'm talking from a seat
right on the 50-yard line...
...but the game hasn't started yet.
Better get ready for the same
run around as yesterday.
Sure, I'll try.
Okay, I'll call you.
Are you the new commanding general?
No, just a poor reporter
trying to do his job.
Poor reporter is right.
I thought Dennis told you to keep out.
He did.
You guys always get what you want
from Kane, don't you?
Public relations office is down the hall.
The general doesn't wanna see you.
I don't blame you
for feeling jumpy, sergeant.
Quite a deal, isn't it?
Your boss gets put in top charge
for one day...
...and loses more planes
than General Kane ever lost in a week.
Maybe he just doesn't like airplanes.
Maybe he doesn't like their crews either.
Tell me...
...why has Dennis got
a flight commander with 21 missions...
...confined to quarters at the 32nd?
Probably for not brushing his teeth.
Well, that disposes of the item
of Captain Jenks.
Does that finish your business?
I did want to say goodbye
to General Dennis before he left.
Goodbye? Who's leaving?
Well, trouble with the press...
...war hero under arrest,
record losses just one time too many...
I just have the feeling
he might be going home.
They never fired no general
till they give him the Legion of Merit.
They can pass it out mighty quick.
Gonna miss your hero?
No brass is a hero to me.
I've done my 25.
Captain Jenks to see General Dennis.
Captain Jenks reporting, sir.
Have him come in.
Yes, sir. Okay, captain.
Want me with you, sir?
No, I'll talk to the captain alone.
Come in, Jenks.
Sit down.
- Cigarette?
- No, thanks.
I've got a pretty nasty report
on you here.
I understand when the target
was announced... slammed out of the group's briefing,
said you wouldn't fly.
- What's your version of it?
- It's true, as far as it goes.
Captain Jenks, it's an old custom
in the service to call your superiors sir.
All right, we'll skip the manners
for the moment.
- Do you realize this is serious?
- I won't get killed to make you a record.
Maybe you've had too much.
I guess a few days
down at Bournemouth wouldn't hurt.
If you look in the bottom of the file, you'll
see I finished 10 days in a rest home, sir.
Tell me...
...your uncle's on
the Military Affairs Committee, isn't he?
Would that have anything to do
with your behavior?
Sure it has.
It's lucky I've got somebody
to look out for me.
How would you like to have
your squadron hear you say that?
- They feel the same way.
- They went this morning.
Don't give me that, general.
My squadron knows that I can take it
as well as anybody, if I want to.
I've been to plenty of tough targets.
Suppose I were to tell you...
...that the whole war might depend
on what we did yesterday and today?
That's what your PRO will tell us.
You and your crew were one
of the lead teams trained for this operation.
They needed you there today.
Do you know that we lost two ships from
your group this morning during assembly?
My crew, sir?
Get me Markington.
Hello, Markington? Colonel Walker.
Hello, Walker? General Dennis speaking.
Who did we lose in that collision
this morning?
Robinson, huh?
Yes, I think I did know him.
Yes, too bad. He was a good boy.
Who? Johnson?
Oh, Johnston, huh?
No, I don't think I did.
Well, then neither one
was a lead crew.
Okay. Thanks, Walker.
Robinson, huh?
So you knew him?
Did you know whether
Frank was married or not?
Whether he had any kids
or where he came from?
You don't remember Johnston at all.
You don't know what he looked like.
- Take it easy.
- Why should you?
He's only got in 20 missions over Germany.
Only been here eight months.
You gave him his cluster on his DFC
after Bremfurt, shook his hand, said:
"The division is proud of you. Proud."
Why do you try to remember our names?
- Why don't you call us by serial numbers?
- Captain!
General Kane and party, sir.
- Hello, Casey.
- Sorry, I wish I'd known you were coming.
That's all right. We landed
at Prestwick a couple of hours ago.
I wanted to stop off and see you.
How was Washington?
About as you'd expect
with that meeting going on.
Is this man with your party?
Why, yes. I bumped
into Brockie right outside your office.
What were you doing,
Mr. Brockhurst?
I know you and Brockie
had a little misunderstanding.
That was one thing
I wanted to straighten out.
- All right, that's all for now.
- Why, Captain Jenks.
Delighted to see you, my boy. I was talking
with your uncle in Washington on Monday.
He's looking forward to seeing you
when he gets over here.
Brockie, this is one
of our real combat leaders.
He's a flight commander
and already has 23 missions.
- It is 23, isn't it, captain?
- Twenty-one, sir.
Oh, 21, eh?
Well, I guess that name on your ship
hardly applies anymore.
Captain Jenks is the pilot
of our famous Impatient Virgin.
Say now, there's a crew
you could do a wonderful picture layout on.
- It's already been done, general.
- Good.
You care to see what I've written
about your squadron?
You better bring it up to date.
McPhearson, here, was killed on Friday.
Jacobs went down yesterday.
All right, captain.
What have you been doing?
I got the shock of my life last night.
I was afraid of that.
When we sat down at Gander,
Prescott handed me a message...
...from Washington saying
you'd lost 48 ships yesterday.
That's right, 48.
I'd just finished selling the chiefs
on the low cost of daylight bombardment...
...and you spring these appalling losses
on me. Casey, surely you must re...
That's Cliff Garnet.
He flew over with me.
Apparently, the chief wants him
to look under a few beds.
I'm sorry, Casey. Who should I run into
out there but old Ramrod Haley.
I just told him about the pilot,
the mermaid and the rubber dinghy.
- How are you?
- Glad to see you, Cliff.
I saw Kathy and those youngsters
of yours day before I left.
- Yeah? How are they?
- Fine, Casey, fine.
Got some letters and packages for you.
- How's Ted?
- Keeping busy.
That's good. Sis gave me
a lot of messages for him.
- How is Helen?
- She's fine. She's staying with mother.
She's expecting it any day now.
Have you braced yourself
to be an uncle?
I'm hoping it will be a girl.
One who won't fly anything but a kite.
No, not Ted's daughter.
She'll probably be another Amelia Earhart.
- General, what are you doing here?
- Brockie.
I thought you were sitting
with the mighty in the Pentagon.
I gotta get out once in a while and see how
these boys are fighting the real war.
You're doing a wonderful job, Casey.
All you fellas are.
Have they turned you
into an air inspector?
Well, no.
The chief can't wait to find out
everything through channels.
Call it personal reconnaissance.
General Dennis. Who?
Just a minute, he's right here.
- It's for you, sir, the Duchess of Waverly.
- Oh, thank you.
Hello. Hello, Millie.
Yes, I just arrived.
I tried to get in touch
with you from Prestwick.
Oh, I wanted to tell you again
how charming the luncheon was last week.
The results were very evident
in Washington.
Oh, no, it was very useful to meet him
for once in an informal way.
Your luncheons may have done more
for daylight bombardment...
...than all the tonnage
we've dropped since April.
Thank you, my dear.
Thursday? Yes, yes, I think I can.
Some what?
Oh, peanuts.
Certainly. Send them over
with my sergeant this afternoon.
All right, Millie. Goodbye.
Come on now, Brockie,
don't look so gloomy.
I want you and Casey to cut this out.
We're fighting the same war.
I tried to explain to him that nobody wants
to withhold information from the press.
I've seen the way Mr. Brockhurst
handles legitimate information.
- When?
- After Bremfurt.
We needed another attack
to finish that job.
By the time you got through with our losses,
and Washington got through explaining...
...we got an order that it'd be politically
impossible to attack the place again.
Boys are being killed today with cannon
made at Bremfurt since that attack.
- Now wait a minute...
- You think, general...
...that the American public should accept
losses without even knowing the target?
Yesterday's communiqu
was pretty skimpy, Casey.
But we've certainly nothing to hide.
Our loss average
is still far below expectations.
- Is today going to help it?
- What do you mean?
Yesterday was a bloody massacre.
Won't today be worse?
- I don't like your language, Mr. Brockhurst.
- I'm sorry, general...
...but even a dumb civilian can tell
you've got a maximum effort out today.
Where did they go today?
This is not a matter
for the press.
Brockie's been a friend
of air power for years.
What's today's target?
Very good, sir. Schweinhafen.
Schweinhafen. And yesterday?
Yesterday's target was Posenleben, sir.
Casey, you haven't started...
Brockie, I'm afraid there is a question
of security involved here, if you don't mind.
- Have you started Operation Stitch?
- The second phase is on today, sir.
I don't want the congressional
committee to come today.
Call London and have
their itinerary changed.
See that they don't get here
before the day after tomorrow.
- And cancel that thing at the embassy.
- Yes, sir.
Get me command headquarters.
This is General Kane.
Get me General Malloway.
Hello, Bob? Oh, pretty good.
Let's scramble.
No, I'm at Dennis' headquarters.
I want a complete security blackout
on today's operations.
Nothing to be passed on to London
without my personal approval.
Under no circumstances
will any field order be sent out...
...unless you hear from me personally.
That's right.
I'm resuming command as of now.
All right, Bob.
Casey, this may pull down
the work of 20 years.
All right, let's have it.
After you left, weather
conference gave us a clear break...
...over central and northeast Germany
for four days.
There was a chance to do the job.
Possibly the last one,
so I laid on Stitch.
Regardless that you might be
upsetting the larger picture.
Larger than what, sir?
The outcome of the war?
The outcome will depend on how large
an air force the combined chiefs allocate us.
- Isn't that correct?
- It is, sir. You see...
You took advantage of my absence.
You know it wasn't my intention
to implement Stitch this soon.
It was my decision to make, sir.
I made it.
Gentlemen, gentlemen.
May an ignorant visitor inquire
just what Operation Stitch is all about?
You must know something about this
new German fighter, Lantze-Wolf 1.
You mean that miracle jet job
they're supposed to have?
- Is that it?
- That's it.
- I want to run that special film for Garnet.
- Oh, yes, sir.
Six weeks ago, a German plane
like that model...
...landed on the number one strip
at Ted's field.
- Shot up?
- Not a scratch.
The pilot was a Czechoslovakian engineer.
He'd been forced to work for the Nazis.
When they sent him to the Baltic
to test this job, he flew it here instead.
Sweet of him.
Here are the tests.
Our Lightning, Thunderbolt,
Mustang, Spit 12.
And this is the Lantze-Wolf 1.
Speed, altitude,
almost double of anything we've got.
It's a terrific improvement.
Improvement? It's a revolution, Cliff.
- You ready, sergeant?
- Yes, sir.
Gentlemen, sit down.
If Gring can put
enough of these into the air...
...he can knock us out in 60 days.
- That's an assumption.
I'm sorry, sir,
but it's a cold fact.
These Lantzes will turn every type of plane
we have into a sitting duck.
I don't have to tell you once they get
control of the air over the continent...
...a ground invasion
will be a pipe dream.
It was fighters that kept them out of Britain.
Fighters and their own indecision.
We thought these were
just drawing-board figures.
Casey, where are they
making these kites?
We know now that there are three factories
in Germany actually producing these planes.
That is, there were
until yesterday anyway.
Posenleben, Schweinhafen, Fendelhorst.
There it is, Cliff, Operation Stitch...
...for "stitch in time."
General Kane, why hasn't more of this
been reported to Washington?
I couldn't endorse
such alarming conclusions.
Not at the very time
when everything depends...
...on our getting established
on an acceptable loss basis.
Casey, why didn't you wait
at least until the meeting was over?
We would have lost our weather,
which is everything.
To you and me, maybe,
but not to topside.
A third day like this
might kill precision bombardment.
I'm not at all sure
I'm justified in permitting it.
Sir, if we don't finish the job now...
...the men and the planes we've lost so far
will have been lost for nothing.
Here they come.
Six, eight, nine. How many
did the 329th put up this morning?
Thirty-six, I think it was, sir.
- I make it eleven.
- So do I.
How many do you have in a squadron?
Twelve, if it was a squadron.
That isn't the remains of a group
is it, Casey?
- I can't tell yet.
- Well, find out. Find out at once.
Boy, this really is a mess.
Better be a story on this, general...
...or it'll look like a cover-up
for the worst blunder since Pearl Harbor.
That was a whole group, sir.
Eleven out of 36.
That's almost 70 percent.
Colonel Martin just called in.
Eight miles southeast of the base.
He sent three ships ahead
for emergency landings.
- Are they going to land here?
- Yes, sir. That's two of them now.
Where's the third one?
Still sweating it out.
A bombardier is supposed
to be flying that one.
- A bombardier?
- Yes, sir. Pilot and copilot both hurt.
He's probably a washed-out flying cadet.
That first one's
got his number four feathered.
Hello, Nut Tree.
This is Kumquat B-Baker,
Kumquat B-Baker.
Two miles southeast of field.
Landing instructions, please.
Kumquat B-Baker, land runway two-four.
Wind variable, 10 miles.
Have you wounded aboard?
Nut Tree, this is Kumquat B-Baker.
Two wounded aboard.
Have ambulance stand by.
Roger, Kumquat B-Baker.
Hello, Nut Tree, this is Jellybean M-Mike
following Kumquat B-Baker in.
Have ambulance stand by.
Wounded aboard.
Roger, Jellybean M-Mike.
Hello, Nut Tree,
this is Lazy Dog L-Love coming over field.
Bombardier Lieutenant Nelson flying.
Pilot wounded and copilot dead.
What'll I do? Over.
Hello, Nelson. Nut Tree to Nelson,
how much gas have you got?
I think she's about empty.
Gas gauge reads dry. What'll I do?
Roger. Stand by.
- He's putting his wheels down.
- Don't let that boy try to land...
...with the whole group coming in.
- Yes, sir.
Hello, Nelson. Get 1000 feet.
Have crew bail out and head for Wash.
When headed toward water,
bail out yourself.
Having rest of crew bail out.
Landing instructions, please.
Nelson, you are not to land.
Repeat. You are not to land.
Continue to Wash as advised.
Sorry, Nut Tree, I can't bail out.
My pilot is alive but cannot be moved.
He cannot use his hands.
- Give me landing instructions, please.
- Let me talk to him.
Hello, Nelson.
Are you receiving me?
I am receiving you.
Have you ever landed a 17 before?
Not quite.
- Not alone.
- Hello, Nut Tree.
This is Bluebird Red Leader.
Red Leader calling Nut Tree.
Turning on final. Go ahead.
That's Ted Martin.
Roger, Red Leader.
Use runway two-four.
Wind, 10, variable.
Watch out for B-17
making emergency landing on one-seven.
Roger, Nut Tree.
Will he send the group around
until this boy gets out?
- He can't. They haven't any gas left either.
- Hello, Nelson. Hello, Nelson.
Now, listen carefully.
You may land on runway one-seven.
Do not use runway two-four.
There'll be a little crosswind.
Do you think you can make it?
I'll try.
You'll make it.
Now, start letting down a little.
That's it.
Keep your air speed at 140
until you know you can make it.
Can you see the runway all right?
I see it.
Start your turn over that farmhouse,
so that you'll have a long approach.
That's it. Easy.
Not too steep. Not too steep, boy.
That looks good.
When you're over the end of the runway,
don't forget to cut your switches.
Do you know where they are?
- I think so, sir.
- Don't talk now.
That red bar
just in front of your throttles.
See it?
You seem to be lined up all right.
Now, reduce your air speed to 120.
Bring the stick back a little.
Not too much.
That's it.
Point it at the end of the runway.
I'll tell you when to level out.
Now, put your flaps down.
No, no, not your landing gear.
The switch right next to it, the flaps.
- Flaps coming down...
- Don't bother answering me now.
Keep your eyes on the runway.
You're doing fine.
Let her down.
Okay. Now, start back on the stick.
Keep her straight.
Good boy.
Keep that stick full back.
Stay off the brakes.
Stay off those breaks!
That's Ted's ship there now.
- That Nelson a new boy?
- No, sir.
He's one of our original
squadron bombardiers.
- Glad to see you back, Colonel Martin.
- Glad to be back.
- Where's the old man?
- He's sweating you out inside.
He's got a crowd
of big wheels with him.
- What big wheels?
- General Kane and General Garnet, sir.
Never mind. I'll get rid of them for you.
All right, that way.
The second interrogation table.
The crew's all set up and waiting.
Photographers are ready when you are, sir.
- Photographers?
- What photographers, sergeant?
- Division and group public relations.
- By whose authority? Who ordered them?
Generals always have their pictures taken
wherever they go.
It helps the boys' morale.
Well, well, if it helps morale...
Cliff, sit in on one
of these interrogations.
Come on, Brockie.
We'll be in here, Casey, when Ted comes.
Whose idea was that?
Sir, we never would have gotten
rid of them without photographers.
Someday you're gonna wisecrack yourself
right into the infantry, sergeant.
What are you looking so grim about?
- What's been keeping you? You all right?
- Not a scratch.
What's that blood?
My radioman.
- Bad?
- Dead.
- Anybody else?
- Not in our plane.
- As soon as you find that, bring it over.
- Yes, sir.
Hello, Goldberg.
When are you gonna retire?
I guess I should have retired yesterday.
Let's get a drink.
Evans, bring a couple of rations.
- We'll be in there.
- Yes, sir.
Make it three.
Tell them you're taking Hamilton's.
He doesn't drink.
I bought his on the way in.
- I'm glad you got back today.
- So am I.
Sorry, sir, I brought four by mistake.
- Glad to see you back, Colonel Martin.
- Thanks.
I hear Kane and that dashing
brother-in-law of mine are here.
Yeah. The place is full of generals today.
Did Cliff bring any news from Helen?
Well, you're not a father yet.
Cliff says she looks wonderful.
- I've been keeping an eye out for a cable.
- Thanks.
What's Cliff doing so far from home?
Well, he intimated...
...just routine rubbernecking,
high-level courier stuff.
Well, the handle
doesn't stick out anyway.
Colonel, you're speaking
of your revered relative...
...and a general officer
in the U.S. Air Force.
Any brigadier in the Air Force would give
his next star for your job, Casey.
Well, as soon as we finish Stitch,
they can have it for corporal stripes.
Thank heavens we're two-thirds finished.
What's wrong?
That's the joker, Casey.
We aren't two-thirds finished.
We aren't what?
You did Posenleben yesterday
and Schweinhafen today.
We didn't touch Schweinhafen today.
You signaled me.
We plastered some darn place that looked
like it, some 20 miles from Schweinhafen.
- How'd it happen?
- Sighting mistake.
It was my fault, Casey.
Just as we started the bomb run,
the second group turned inside at the IP.
We had to swing wide
to get out of their way.
Goldberg had only a minute
for identification.
There sat a town that looked more like
Schweinhafen than Schweinhafen does.
Checkpoints were identical.
We were both fooled
by that dummy camouflage...
...and threw our whole load
down the chimney.
The others salvoed into our smoke.
How do you know
it wasn't Schweinhafen?
After we turned north, on our way back,
we saw the real target.
There was Schweinhafen
without a scratch.
Generals Kane and Garnet had to go
to the phone. A call from Washington.
They'll meet you
and Colonel Martin at dinner.
Thank you.
I guess Evans should have snitched
another one of these.
Okay, Goldberg.
Keep checking if you
have to pull out every picture.
I'll be at the general's quarters.
He's still looking through
the target photos. No luck yet.
I'd like to know what we did hit
before Kane gets here.
Casey, you look tired.
If you don't take care of yourself,
someone else will be doing this work.
Maybe today'll give us both a rest.
What's it gonna do to Stitch?
Set us back one day.
We'll hit Schweinhafen tomorrow
and Fendelhorst Monday.
- The weather will hold.
- Will Kane?
- He'll have to.
- He had cold feet before we started.
Tell him about today's snafu
and he'll kill Stitch for good.
What do you suggest?
Don't let him know, tonight anyway.
I'll guarantee you Kane won't be able
to tell today's photos from Schweinhafen.
When are you going to learn
about the Army?
We're not stunt flyers at the state fair.
Oh, good evening.
We can be grateful
for one thing at least.
From what the boys tell me, this seems
to be the finest job of bombing ever done.
What a price though, 52 ships.
- Ted, how are you?
- Still kicking.
- Glad to see you.
- Thank you.
Sorry you had a rough day.
But when you're leading,
we never worry about the target.
Soon as they're through, you'll be glad
to know the family's still interested in you.
- How is she?
- Sir, I'd like to speak to you alone.
As soon as Cliff tells you
about our talk with Washington.
- Dinner is served, sir.
- Come on, Cliff.
Where's Brockie?
Stayed over to finish
his Schweinhafen stories.
I made him realize this wasn't the fiasco
he thought. He seemed rather impressed.
I think he'll give us a very good story.
It's important
that I have a minute with you.
Wait, Casey, I want Cliff to...
Cliff, tell him, will you?
Well, Casey... may think I ratted on you...
...but I felt that our people ought to know
what's going on.
While on the phone with Washington,
I persuaded General Kane... let me talk to the Air Board.
- What did they say?
Unfortunately, most of them are in Florida
at the proving grounds.
Testing a new typewriter?
Casey, I can't tolerate this attitude.
Our public relations policies
got us where we are today.
It sure has.
The chief wasn't there, but I had
a very constructive talk with Lester Blender.
And what did Lester "Yes, sir" say?
He was shocked at your losses,
but since you are two-thirds done...
...I think I sold him on letting you
finish Operation Stitch...
...after the Washington meetings
are over.
Sir, did you let
that little two-stars stooge forbid us...?
Casey, if you'll play ball now,
all will be fine after Tuesday.
Including the weather?
I found where it was, sir.
Excuse me, sir.
- You said when I found them...
- That's right. Come in, Goldberg.
General Kane, today's lead bombardier,
Lieutenant Goldberg.
Lieutenant, the chief will be proud
of your mission today.
Thank you, sir.
- Oh, colonel, here are the photos.
- Thanks, Gold...
Let's get these under
a stronger light, huh?
That's what I call precision bombing.
Look, Cliff, look.
Here's the highway coming in here,
here's the river, and here's the factory.
You've got them upside down, sir.
Sir, if you and I
can excuse ourselves for a minute...
Be right with you, Casey.
Look at that destruction, Cliff.
These will go to Washington
by special plane.
Sir, I'd like to frame these
on a good white board...
...with a title,
"The Doom of Schweinhafen."
It isn't Schweinhafen, sir.
That's right, sir.
That's what I was trying to tell you.
It isn't Schweinhafen.
Not Schweinhafen? What is it then?
It's the Nautilus torpedo factory
at Gritzenheim, sir.
Torpedo factory?
General, this is very opportune.
Half the united chiefs are admirals.
If we can get these
to the allocation meeting...
I'll send my own plane.
You don't know what you've done for us.
Showing them that in the midst
of the greatest air campaign...
...we still think enough of the larger aspect
to knock out a torpedo factory too.
I'm sorry, sir. It wasn't "too."
It was "instead."
You let me tell Washington
you destroyed Schweinhafen.
- Brockie's writing a story.
- It was a mistake.
We hit this Nautilus place.
- Whose mistake?
- Mine, sir. The briefing.
The briefing was perfect.
I lead the division, I loused it up.
These gentlemen
are covering for me, sir.
I was well-briefed,
and I was on the bombsight.
- I got mixed up in the fighting.
- Why'd you get mixed up?
- Were you scared?
- Yes, sir, I'm always scared.
What do you mean entrusting
a mission of this importance... a man who admits...?
- I should like to explain.
Sir, General Kane doesn't understand.
Do you understand
what I'd be justified in doing?
You ought to shoot me for wasting
520 boys this afternoon.
I'd be grateful if you did.
Sir, Lieutenant Goldberg
is on the fourth mission...
...of a voluntary second tour of duty
over German targets only.
He isn't my group bombardier
by accident.
He knows there's a German order
waiting for him.
He knew it when he volunteered
for a second tour.
Today, he hit what we both thought
was the target perfectly.
I've just written him up for a cluster
on his Silver Star.
Send the citation to me personally.
Thank you, sir.
General Dennis.
Wait a minute.
My group commanders are standing by
for tomorrow's orders, sir.
I should like to give them their target.
...yesterday, we lost 48.
Today, 52.
You must be crazy to think I'm going
to rush into a third day like this.
We've got to think this thing over
from every possible angle.
Tell them to wait.
You'll have to wait a bit longer.
I know it is,
but there's nothing we can do.
Tell all groups to stand by.
No target yet, huh?
They're probably only
on their first brandy over there.
Well, brandy or no brandy...
General Dennis' quarters.
General Dennis.
Hold on a minute, George.
General, they're still sweating out
tomorrow's order.
Tell them you'll call back.
May I at least order an alert
for a possible maximum effort, sir?
If you're willing to put the strain
on your people, probably for nothing.
Tell all groups to be ready
for a maximum effort tomorrow.
Cut the tape for phase two,
Operation Stitch.
That's right. Phase two, Schweinhafen.
And hold it. Don't send it out
until you get further orders.
Why does everything
have to happen at once?
We go to Schweinhafen where we had
no business going, and then we don't hit it.
We wait for good weather all year,
and we get it now...
...just when this committee's
on top of us.
If my own wife were to walk in here now,
I wouldn't be surprised.
- What is it now?
- Mr. Brockhurst is outside.
No, not now. We're up to...
- May I come in?
- You are in, Mr. Brockhurst.
We're rather occupied for the moment.
What can I do for you?
Straighten me out a little.
I was pretty interested in what you told me
about that Schweinhafen place.
But now the boys over at the 32nd
have me confused.
- It seems they...
- There's been a mistake. We just found out.
Yes, I know. The Nautilus torpedo factory
at Gritzenheim.
But Homer tells me it's okay.
That this Gritzenheim plant
is just as important.
Naturally, some targets
are more important than others...
...but a blow like this against Germany's
submarine campaign can affect the war.
Any more than an attack with fighter cover
on the sub pens across the Channel?
Now, don't misunderstand me...
In view of the fact that
we didn't hit our planned target today...
...the Gritzenheim torpedo factory
was considerably better than nothing.
Does that answer your question?
- You can do us a tremendous service.
- What is it?
- Sit down and write this story.
- What story?
From the standpoint of interservice
cooperation alone...
...the importance of naval targets
is beyond dispute.
- Take Gritzenheim...
- May I, sir?
- Yes, go ahead, Homer.
- How about this caption, Brockie?
"The eagle's answer
to the U-boat wolf packs.
Doom of an Axis torpedo factory."
Well, that's the rough idea anyway.
And then with two more days on naval
targets, we can average down losses.
Put the Navy under obligation to us,
right at the meetings.
- Right.
- And that washes up Operation Stitch.
Operation what?
Oh, that's a special project,
Mr. Brockhurst.
I'm sorry, gentlemen.
I'm afraid I knew beforehand you were
gonna give me the runaround.
I may as well tell you now,
I'll write this story straight or not at all.
The loss of a thousand boys
is still quite a news item back home.
Wait, Brockie.
You know I've always trusted you.
I'm going to trust you now.
Remember what I told you
off the record...
...about the possibility
of enemy secret weapons in the future?
Casey, let me have
that memorandum on Stitch.
Here. Go in there and read this,
then forget what you've read.
- Major Lansing's outside, sir.
- Who?
My intelligence officer.
You wanted to see him.
- You say this fella's pretty good.
- He's honest and has sense.
- What is he, a synthetic?
- Retread.
Artilleryman in the last war,
insurance broker since.
Probably a good husband too.
- Have him come in.
- Yes, sir.
Shall I put the chicken back in the oven?
Oh, let's not bother about that now.
We'll be out of here in a few minutes.
That's fine, sir.
- Do you want me, sir?
- Come in, Lansing.
General Kane, my A2, Major Lansing.
Good evening, sir.
Major, do you think the Germans will be
able to put on as tough a show tomorrow... they did today?
- They will if we go into Germany.
But how can they? We've claimed
over 180 enemy fighters... the last two days.
- We've claimed that.
- You don't believe them?
- No, sir.
- Then why do you report them?
- Orders from your headquarters, sir.
Well, you understand that's necessary
for the boys' morale.
Do you think the German command
knows what Stitch is about?
- It's my personal opinion that they don't, sir.
- Why?
The Germans don't like to give
their superiors bad news.
How can they help reporting that?
Their information goes up
through channels too.
- Is that a sarcasm, major?
- It's a fact, sir.
The German radio just announced
they destroyed 160 of our bombers today.
Doubtless for the German boys' morale.
You evidently don't think
their high command likes to face the truth.
Well, my observation
is most professional soldiers think more...
...about their political problems
than the enemy.
So when war comes, they ask amateurs
like me what to do with their weapons.
When the results are bad,
they fire the amateurs...
...and make the commanders field marshals.
- We don't have field marshals.
- I'm speaking about the Germans.
What will their reaction be if we go back
to Schweinhafen tomorrow?
They'll have to face the truth, sir.
And concentrate every fighter they have
in defense of Fendelhorst?
We'd have to expect that, sir.
That's what I think, major.
- I'd like to ask you a personal question.
- Yes, sir.
Facing the facts ourselves... you think it's sound
to continue Stitch right now?
If you wish to continue
precision bombardment, sir.
You mean you think it's feasible?
I think it's imperative.
Thank you, major.
Mighty independent major
you keep, Casey.
Of course, he's really only a civilian.
"Precision bombardment imperative."
The man's not even checked out on
a Piper Cub, he tells me what's imperative.
- He's right, sir.
- I've spent 20 years...
...working for bombardment.
The chief, 25.
- You kids don't know how we fought.
- No?
No. You're giving your youth.
We've already given ours.
I was 12 years a captain. The chief, 14.
We took Billy Mitchell's side
when it meant Siberia...
...and they sent us to a cavalry school.
I was the second-best pilot in America...
...and they assigned me
to keeping records of manure disposal.
But we never gave up,
we never quit trying.
We wrote anything we could get printed.
We went down on our knees
to Hollywood for pictures...
...and we risked our necks every day
to get publicity to educate the public.
And we kept our own funds
for the widows.
We tested without parachutes.
We flew the mail through solid glue
in obsolete training ships.
And the year Hermann Gring
dominated the Munich Conference...
...our appropriation still wasn't as big
as the New York City public-safety budget.
- Why didn't you tell the story?
- You don't tell stories in uniform.
We were promised 50,000 planes...
...and our boys were never
gonna fight again in a foreign war.
So the country went back to sleep...
...and we were called from the stables
to make a modern air force out of promises.
They told us the experience...
There was no experience
in daylight precision bombardment.
Both the Germans and British tried it
and said it couldn't be done...
...but the chief said it could.
And we'd just begun to get the tools to get
started, when we were in it ourselves...
...with a double war
and a 50,000-plane paper air force...
...that didn't add up
to 50 serviceable bombers.
Casey, if we'd had in 1941,
the planes you've lost this week...
...we'd have had a Munich with the Japs
that would of made Hitler's...
...look like International Rotary.
- We've fought all our lives.
Now we've got to protect
our beginnings.
- From what?
- From Lantze-Wolf 1. Tomorrow's air power.
They're just our acknowledged enemies.
They fight us in the open.
Do you remember the fight we had
to get the first experimental Fortress?
Do you realize how much the Navy
wants our planes for sub patrol...
...and to protect the repairing of those
battleships that air power couldn't hurt?
Do you know how much the Army wants
our pilots for company commanders?
Don't you know the British want us
to switch to night area bombardment?
And do you know there's a plan to fly
infantry supplies into China with bombers?
Don't you realize the fight it's taken for Cliff
and the others to get us any planes at all?
- He's right, Ted.
- And every one...
...every one of those factions
is at that meeting right now...
...with its own pet plan for winning
this war. By naval blockade...
...or attrition by defensive,
or a good, sound saber charge.
And you want me to send
the chief back with nothing...
...but three days of prohibitive losses?
- We demolished Posenleben.
And with time and planes and support,
we'll do the same to every factory in Europe.
But the basic decision is at stake now.
You can worry about Germany,
and you should.
But I'm fighting the ground forces,
and the Navy...
...and the Congress, and White House,
and the people in the press, and our allies.
Where did I ever get the idea
that this war was against the Axis?
You think I don't know
the names the boys call me?
Do you think I've enjoyed
spreading this mug of mine...
...around the press
like an eloping heiress?
Do you think I don't know what they can
do to me for the statistics I've juggled...
...the strike photos I've doctored,
the reports I've gilded and suppressed?
I know, and I'd do it all again.
Oh, sit down.
Jack Forbes, Pete Baker...
...burned up in those DH coffins
they made us fly.
Gene Devlin, trying to prove
we could fly bombs into Alaska.
Judby, Glenson, Torrieli,
in that air-mail mess.
Remember how they
got rid of Hugh Enley...
...because he had the guts to stand up
before Congress and tell the truth?
I've spent 20 years, 20 years
watching my friends killed and broken...
...and disgraced and discarded
for one single idea.
To get our country air power.
General Dennis.
Hello, Davis.
Never mind the genealogy.
Day after tomorrow, huh?
Okay, call me as you get it.
There goes our season's weather, sir.
We make it these two days
or bite our nails off to the elbows.
Casey, I appreciate toughness and
independence in my subordinates. I like it.
But I'm not thinking about the weather.
I'm thinking about
our whole future, yours too.
And I can't have you
fighting me along with the others.
Woody, if I have to fight you
in order to fight the Germans... don't leave me any choice.
- That's preposterous.
Is it? Doesn't Washington understand
what's going on here?
You think the Germans would fight
if they weren't scared of our bombardment?
The RAF at night,
and we in the daytime...
...are the only force able to hit
the Germans in Germany.
We're doing what no one in this war
has done so far, Cliff.
We're making the German air force
fight on our initiative...
...and we're tearing it up over Germany.
Make a note of that.
German air force has been
the balance of power since Munich.
It took the German army
everywhere it's been.
It beat the Polish air force in three days,
and the Norwegian in three hours.
It forced the Maginot Line,
beat the French in three weeks.
Homer, get this.
The RAF did win a brilliant battle
from it over England.
But it was a defensive battle, the kind
we're making the Germans fight now.
After that, the Germans
were good enough... knock off Yugoslavia
and Greece for practice.
To capture Crete
and dominate the Mediterranean.
To chase the Russians
back to Moscow and Stalingrad.
To blockade the North Cape and very nearly
cut the Atlantic lifeline to England.
They would have done it too...
...if their high command
backed them up with more planes.
We've made them switch from bomber
production to manufacturing fighters.
We've made them pull whole groups
off the Russians and away from Rommel.
And put them across the channel,
facing us.
Our people in the Mediterranean
are advancing under aerial supremacy.
Get every word of this.
Well, get this too, Homer.
The Germans know this better than we do.
But they're retreating
from their costliest conquests...
...and they've broken the balance
of their whole air force for just one thing:
They're developing jets to make Europe as
impregnable as the Spitfire's made England.
They're going to do it too...
...just as sure as we sit here
with our fingers in our mouths and let them.
- Do you want that in too, sir?
- No, not exactly.
Casey, I agree with you entirely,
but we've got to wait.
Sir, wars are lost by waiting.
The Allies waited at Munich.
The French and British
waited behind the Maginot Line.
The Germans waited
to invade England.
The Russians waited until they
had to fight without an Allied army.
We waited for a little more strength
to face Japan.
Now we're forcing the fighting.
But if we wait for the cycle
to swing again...
...we'll wait for the Germans
to put a roof on the continent... neutralize the Russians...
...then to face our armies
on D-Day at the Channel...
...with an air force
that's already whipped us.
I'm not saying Operation Stitch
will win the war...
...but no battle anywhere in this war
has been won without aerial supremacy.
You say you're thinking of our future?
Operation Stitch is the price of that.
Will you gentlemen
wait in the dining room, please?
You mean me too, sir?
Yes, I want to talk
to General Dennis alone.
General, I wish I'd known about this
the day before yesterday.
I'd like to have helped you all I could.
That's all right, Mr. Brockhurst.
Casey, you must think me
incapable of decision.
Sir, I know that you have many things...
...on your level to cope with
that I don't have here.
But if Washington screams for blood,
I'll have to throw you to the wolves.
I understand, sir.
And if I have to jettison you,
we lose our best brigadier.
Thank you, sir,
but we're all expendable.
And if they have to jettison me,
we'll probably lose daylight bombardment.
When they sent us here to command,
they expected us to command.
I hope so, Casey...
...because I'm releasing the division
to your discretion with immediate effect.
Thank you, sir.
You're fully aware
of what may happen?
Perfectly, sir.
Well, I hope it doesn't.
Good luck, my boy.
- Green light?
- Yeah.
- George, get me Major Rockton.
- How did it happen?
There's been some slip-up.
The sergeant of the guard just called.
They'll be here.
Find out who disobeyed my orders. This is
one slip-up that's not going to get by.
Just a minute, George.
This really upsets the applecart.
You heard me order that committee
be kept away until day after tomorrow?
They're here,
and they're coming over.
Have you got the tape
for Operation Stitch?
- Well, put up...
- What are you doing?
Ordering tomorrow's operation.
- This changes everything.
- One moment, George.
The impressions of this committee
mean life or death.
I'm not going to have them watching
the sort of thing we saw this afternoon.
Sir, we can't keep the groups waiting.
I'm sorry, we'll have to pick
the safest naval target we can find.
- Sir, you...
- No more argument, Casey. That's an order.
Never mind, George. I'll call you back.
Can you give these congressmen
a decent dinner?
I hope so, sir.
If Evans hasn't commandeered
that chicken.
And I know he is,
and I don't mind saying that after hearing...
...what American boys
went through this afternoon...
...I feel that what I said to the president
in 1940 still stands, in my humble opinion.
But hold on, Arthur.
Well, sergeant, that looks mighty good.
Never listen to Italian thieves...
I said, "Mr. President, this is my..."
Give me the VIP quarters.
Is this the officer in charge
of visitors' quarters?
This is Major Prescott,
General Kane's aide.
Are those rooms ready?
Clean sheets in all of them?
Good. Be sure you have
a coal fire in each room.
Now, it's pretty cold.
Have you any hot-water bottles?
How would I like to what?
Oh, very funny.
"I contend you remind me of someone"...
...I told the president
before this whole thing started.
Well, we doughboys
had our songs too, you know.
Oh, no. No.
Well, Clifton,
do you find travel broadening?
You can't walk out of there like this, Ted.
You're almost as bad as Casey.
Were you sent to replace him?
- I don't think so.
- What does Kane think?
He asked me confidentially
if I'd been sent here to replace him.
Please, you haven't done anything bad
enough to be a major general, have you?
Same old rebel, huh, Ted?
Listen, old man,
Helen's worried about you flying missions.
What does she want me to do?
Transfer to infantry?
You can do so much more
with your experience.
I've been fighting for bombardment
in my own way.
I think the combined chiefs are gonna
give me a B-29 command in the Pacific... make me prove what I've been saying.
- A B-29 command?
- Do you realize what that means?
- Well, it means another star.
The greatest bomber ever built,
the biggest assignment of the war.
That's not gonna be conference fighting.
Can you handle it?
I think I can, with the man
I've picked for my chief of staff.
- Who's that?
- Brigadier General Ted Martin.
Me? Chief of staff?
With all those papers?
Oh, adjutants do that.
We'll be a perfect team, Ted.
I'll fight the Navy,
and you can fight the Japs.
You might try to be more helpful.
Now, get back in there.
I wanna talk to Casey a minute.
I'm sticking around for the field order
to come through, then I'm going to turn in.
Did you listen to what
Congressman Malcolm said?
I've done nothing but listen
to Malcolm for the last hour.
Good heavens.
You must be more careful.
- He's not chairman, but he's important.
- He's no more important than the others.
Why should we be rattled
by one noisy individual?
The other fellows seem all right.
It's precisely because Malcolm
is a troublemaker that l...
- Yes, Homer?
- Representative Malcolm is anxious... get in touch with his nephew
as soon as possible.
- Could we ask Captain Jenks over here?
- You and I must be losing our grips.
Tell him that Jenks
will be here in a few minutes.
With all these things exploding at once,
I forgot all about the famous nephew.
Let's make Malcolm happy.
Get Jenks over here fast as you can.
- Sir, I'm afraid...
- Say, hasn't Jenks... another decoration coming up?
Get the citation...
...and tomorrow afternoon I'll present
the medal to him in Malcolm's presence.
That's what I mean. I'm afraid
you're asking for something difficult.
You haven't been told yet, sir, but
Captain Jenks is in rather serious trouble.
Trouble? Young Jenks?
Yes, sir. He flatly refused to fly
this morning's mission.
He's confined to quarters
pending further action.
What? Casey, you're...
Captain Jenks is one of the most
highly-publicized heroes in this Air Force.
I know.
Maybe he's had too much newspaper stuff.
My people feel that's his trouble.
- You've had him examined?
- Thoroughly.
The doctors can find no medical excuse,
and Jenks doesn't claim any.
Mightn't this defiance, in itself, indicate
a certain neurosis or a psychic condition?
Surely nobody will call Jenks
a simple coward.
No, sir. Cowards
welcome medical excuses.
In any case, this is not quite the moment
to be decorating him.
Oh, Casey,
we've got to think of something.
Why, Malcolm wouldn't forgive
the Air Force.
- I know one way, sir.
- What?
If Jenks had been acting under verbal
orders to hold himself in readiness...
...for special escort duty
to his uncle's committee...
...he would have been justified
in refusing to fly.
Exactly, exactly, but why must you
do everything the hard way?
Get him over here.
I will, as soon as I've ordered
Schweinhafen for tomorrow.
This is blackmail.
For the good of the service,
our bombardment is at stake.
Ingenious, but you've got your orders.
Then at midnight, I charge
Captain Jenks with desertion.
Are you insane?
Don't you realize there'd be
an investigation, press attacks, publicity?
If the Air Force can't attack what it should,
then an investigation may be a good thing.
How many years
have you known me, Casey?
Have you ever seen anyone
who got away with blackmailing me?
No, sir.
All right...
...just so you don't
get the wrong idea.
- Are you releasing the division to me?
- You're a scoundrel, Casey.
You'll get us all hanged
in the end.
Go ahead and name your own target
for tomorrow, on your own responsibility.
- I'll notify my headquarters.
- Thank you, sir.
- On the Greenland icecap.
Get me Colonel Haley.
The other crew managed to survive
by cutting off his leg...
All right, this way, men.
Point out the man of the year to me,
I've only got one flashbulb.
Landing under extraordinarily
hazardous conditions...
Haley, call the 32nd and tell them
I want Captain Jenks released...
...from all restrictions immediately.
He's to report to my quarters at once
in class A uniform.
This is General Dennis. Major Rockton.
...scrub those naval targets. Have you
still got the tape for Stitch in the printer?
Good. Send it out.
Bomb and fuel loadings
same as yesterday.
I'll help you with the routes and timings
as soon as I can get away from here.
How did you do it, general?
It doesn't matter how, Mr. Brockhurst.
It's on.
Yes, it was on.
Once again, Dennis' command
set the big machine in motion.
Bomb loads, fusings, target intelligence
plot Hitler's flak guns.
This was no raid tomorrow.
No gallant dash to the target
and out again.
This was a battle.
Here and from other fields...
... hundreds of Forts and Libs
would rise at dawn...
... higher than men can dream.
Kids who worked in drugstores
last year...
... played at the country clubs,
failed in algebra...
... would guide the formation
to the heart of Germany...
... with instruments
Marconi and Edison never knew.
The field order went down.
Division to combat wings,
wings to groups.
Okay, there's a mission tomorrow,
maximum effort.
Six hundred miles
through the fighters and flak...
... fastened to life
by short hoses of oxygen.
Six hundred miles to come home again.
A thundering battle force 30 miles long.
All this now
for a four-minute bomb run...
... over one small vital town in Germany.
Once more, the patient ground crews
loaded the tons of bombs...
... preflighted the engines...
... checked every wire.
On this base, as on all the bases...
... the combat men could sleep safe
in that knowledge at least.
Two thousand, seven-hundred eighty
gallons of gas in each Fortress.
Enough materials and guts
and skill to run a city.
Now it was nearly ready.
The men on the ground
had almost done their work.
The engines were still again.
The dark fields silent,
waiting for the crews.
Three o'clock, and all over England
at this exact moment...
... they roused them from their sleep.
We have a mission this morning.
Breakfast in half an hour.
Breakfast at 4:00?
It had always
been a heartbreaker to watch.
But this morning, I felt the whole story
for the first time.
Not just the kids
who wouldn't come back today.
A deeper meaning in their sacrifice.
Dennis' fight...
... and Kane's.
Our own long carelessness at home.
Your target for today
is Schweinhafen.
It was all in the kids' hands now.
...see you later.
- Keep your temper with the big wheels.
- What?
I said keep your temper
with the big wheels.
I don't wanna get back and find you
with a Legion of Merit and a ticket home.
- Good morning, general.
- Good morning.
- Good morning.
- Good morning, gentlemen.
- Good morning.
- Good morning.
Well, this is really
worth getting up to see.
Let's hope and pray that all of our boys
will come back this time.
- Is that Colonel Martin?
- Yes, the first one.
You know, my boy, when I see all of this,
I can't help but feel a little bit guilty.
If I weren't here,
you'd probably be up there... Colonel Martin's ship
leading them today.
I suppose nobody ever really gets
used to this, does he, general?
I can imagine.
The weirdest kind of war
on Earth, Mr. Stone.
A few hours from now, they'll be fighting
on oxygen five miles over Germany.
Tonight, some of them
will be dancing at The Savoy...
...and some of them
will still be in Germany.
- Yes, sir.
- Right-o.
The air crews should
hardly get their feet wet.
Hello, 16 Group.
Wrecked aircraft,
priority flying control, please.
Fifth division here. We have a B-17
early return reported fixed in the North Sea.
What do you know?
What's cooking? Something hot?
- That's something. Look at that.
- This calls for a celebration.
- Imagine that.
- Well, what do you know?
Here it is, George.
He really hit the jackpot.
- Strike signal already?
- This is Mrs. Martin's strike signal.
Cable from the States for the colonel.
"New 8-pound copilot
made first landing 4:14 this morning.
Everything fine. Helen."
Well, how about that?
Colonel Martin's got a son.
- Hold the phones...
- Enemy fighters attacking. Roger.
The German air force has been the balance
of power in the world ever since Munich.
It took the German army
everywhere it's been.
It beat the Polish air force in three days,
and the Norwegian in three hours.
It forced the Maginot Line,
and beat the French in three weeks.
It knocked off Yugoslavia
and Greece for practice.
Captured Crete
and dominated the Mediterranean...
...and chased the Russians
back to Moscow and Stalingrad.
Now we've made them pull
whole groups... the Russians
and away from the Mediterranean...
...and put them over there,
across the channel, facing us.
Gentlemen, you've had a glimpse...
...but all the complicated
activities of this division...
...are only a fraction
of General Kane's responsibility.
All right, Homer.
Gentlemen, you must make
the country understand...
...that the credit for what we do here
belongs to the boys.
Often at night,
I think on the parable of the talents.
It must have been a terrible ordeal
for those men...
...who were trying to serve their master
as best they could...
...with what they were given.
You mean you want
more planes, General.
Mr. Stone, if the nation wants
aerial supremacy, we must have them.
The nation wants
aerial supremacy everywhere.
Excuse me. What is it, George?
A message I thought
you'd like to see, sir.
Well, it looks like it's going
to be pretty noisy over the 32nd tonight.
Congratulations, uncle.
Excuse us, gentlemen,
but this is a first-priority communication.
- Colonel Martin's got a boy.
- Wonderful.
Well, I can't tell you
what this means to us.
I've known Colonel Martin for 15 years.
Why, this is as if I'd had a...
Well, I won't say a grandson,
but another son of my own.
- Wonderful.
- General Kane...'s an inspiring thing for us to come over
here and see the American flag flying...
...and to be privileged to inspect these
fine achievements of our bomber boys.
Howsomever, I'd like
to get back to this mission...
...that Colonel Martin is leading today.
General Dennis, if I may,
I'm gonna ask you a few questions.
You explained a while ago
that this was as far... your bomber planes could depend
upon protection from our fighter planes.
And I think you also said
that for the third day in succession...
...your bombers have been deliberately sent
far beyond this limit.
- That's correct.
- In other words...
...about half your plane strength,
and the lives of a thousand men...
...have been lost
within the last two days...
...and we still don't know
about this afternoon.
- Has this been entirely your decision?
- It has.
- On nothing but your own authority?
- Yes.
General Dennis was quite
within his authority, Mr. Malcolm.
When these losses are fitted
into the average...
Oh, I understand
the overall average, general.
And I appreciate your loyalty
to your subordinate.
But it seems to me our boys are paying
a bloody price for General Dennis' record.
They're paying a price
for the country's record.
So the country is responsible
for your sending them...
...far beyond friendly fighter cover?
- Yes.
Or more precisely, some of the country's
elected representatives.
May I ask how?
How did you vote on appropriations
for the Air Force in 1938?
- What?
- How did you vote on appropriations...
...for the Air Force in 1938?
By golly, he's got you, Arthur.
Well, we'll see who's got who.
General Kane, I appreciate
that things can happen... command when your back is turned.
But on behalf of the American people,
I'm warning you.
- One more of these murderous attacks...
- Arthur, it's not our place to criticize.
- Lf they think it's necessary...
- Necessary to slaughter American youth...
...just because a brigadier...?
- May I remind you again...
...our operations are governed
by military directive.
Excuse me, gentlemen.
While Major Lansing
briefs you further on details...
...General Dennis and I
will get some up-to-minute information...
...on where our planes are right now.
Casey. Major.
Casey, I've seen some bad things
in my time. This is it.
Why keep on antagonizing Malcolm?
It's been his lead so far.
You know the way I feel about you and
how the chief has always felt about you.
Well, this is bigger than any friendship.
You've heard Malcolm warn me.
I'm warning you.
- Do you understand?
- Yes, sir.
You wait here and cool off a little
while I try and smooth him down.
This is really my kind of war anyway.
You're welcome to it.
Everything arranged
for Jenks' presentation?
- Plenty to drink?
- I hadn't thought of that.
Well, you better start thinking
in doubles and triples.
- Evans.
- Yes, sir.
- We gotta get some liquor in here.
- I could duck over to the club.
You haven't much time.
Now wait a minute.
I said, "Mr. President..."
They're coming out
of the Ops room now.
I knew there was a catch to this job.
- Where did you get that?
- Present from an admirer, sir.
And it still is.
Nonsense, you can get a fortune for this.
Oh, no, sir. There's just one thing I'd like,
sir, that's to shake your hand.
What's this for?
For telling that servant of the people where
to get off. I didn't know you had it in you.
Well, you better get
some water and glasses.
...I appreciate this.
Well, sir, I'd hate breaking in
a new general.
Cycle relay reports Red Leader is on course
20 miles from target.
Reconnaissance reports
large formation of enemy fighters.
Did you get the strike signal yet?
All right, do that.
All right, this way, men.
Well, look here,
real American drinking whiskey.
Where in the world
did you get it over here?
- Looks as if the Navy's doing you good.
- Are you in touch with the relay ship?
Well, prepare a relay of that cable
about Ted's kid.
When he gets where we could reach him,
shoot it to his plane.
General Kane, are you fixing
to have this decoration ceremony?
Right now, Mr. Malcolm.
Just as soon as General Dennis...
I'm proud of you, son,
mighty proud.
Well, this is a happy coincidence,
my being here and seeing all this.
And, boys, I want a picture that will make
all America proud of the captain here.
Excuse me, gentlemen.
"No mistake this time.
Scratch Schweinhafen for me. Ted."
- Haley, he got it.
- Good old Martin.
- Good for Ted, Schweinhafen.
- Gentlemen.
To Ted Martin, the greatest
combat leader in the Army Air Force.
- To Colonel Martin.
- Here's to Ted.
- Wonderful.
- And to Colonel Martin's son.
- To Colonel Martin's son.
- To Colonel Martin's son.
Brockie, I want a featured story
on Ted for this.
General Kane, you seem to be forgetting
about me and Lucius here.
You wanted a picture to be proud of.
Will you get in this?
General, Colonel Martin's message asked
you to scratch Schweinhafen for him.
- While the photographers are still here...
- Lucius, stand by me. Come on, come on.
- Well, we're ready.
- Oh, excuse me, sir.
Would the gentleman like to put his glass
over here before it starts?
Oh, sure, sure.
You'll go a long way in life, son.
Pull your blouse down
over your hips, general.
Oh, yes.
Now then, I think we better
go ahead with the presentation.
Yes, certainly.
Come along, Lucius.
That's what we're here for.
Attention to orders.
"Headquarters, 8th Air Force,
United States Army. Paragraph 2.
General order number 426.
For outstanding, heroic, and meritorious
conduct in action against the enemy...
...the following officers
are awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Captain Lucius M. Jenks, O-33902,
32nd Bombardment Group, Heavy.
In action against the enemy,
Captain Lucius Jenks has displayed heroic...
...and meritorious conduct..."
"Good luck, Casey.
We're on fire and going."
Finish the message, can't you?
That's all there is.
Well, what's it mean? Who sent that?
It's from my ship.
You mean Colonel Martin?
That same fine officer
I shook hands with this morning?
- Shut up.
- You mean to tell me...?
- Shut up!
- You're telling me to shut up...
...and you're the one that's responsible?
- Will you shut up?
Can't you understand that some guys
have to do more than talk?
- General Dennis...
- Arthur...
...I think you've said enough.
I'd advise you to follow
that suggestion, Mr. Malcolm.
Gentlemen, I'm afraid
I'll have to ask you to excuse me.
It's time to start planning
tomorrow's mission.
Certainly, general.
Right side, bandit at 2 o'clock.
- B- 17 on fire.
- Bandit at 3.
B- 17 going down at 3 o'clock.
Three chutes. Three of them got out.
Got that?
- Bombs away.
- More bandits, 6 o'clock.
Bombardier to crew.
Bomb bay doors...
- There goes another one.
- Bombs away. Bandit at 3.
- Bombs away.
- Lead ship's hit.
Yup, they caught Martin.
Number 2 is on fire.
Bomb bay doors open.
- Waist to pilot. Kelly is hit.
- Bombs away.
Pilot to crew...
... Colonel Martin is turning out of formation.
Deputy taking over.
- Bombs away.
- Bombs away.
Hey, how about that evasive action?
We're flying for ourselves now.
Come on, let's get out of here.
I've got a date in London.
Listen, Casey...
...the old man just said
that he's afraid you aren't well.
Take it easy. He's scared.
He wasn't scared back at Rockwell in the
'20s when he broke those altitude records.
You know, if it had worked out...
...I was gonna ask you
to let me have Ted for the Pacific.
I could have made him a brigadier
in a month.
Did Ted know that?
Maybe I shouldn't have,
but I mentioned it to him last night.
I wish I'd known it
at 3:00 this morning.
Someone will have to tell Helen.
I'll tell her.
Here it is, sir. These latest pictures
are especially interesting.
The weather will
hold up another day, sir.
I'll have a 1400 map for you in a minute.
Oh, I thought you were alone, Casey.
Excuse us, please, gentlemen.
I know you've had a lot to unstring you.
I'm sorry.
What target were you thinking of
for tomorrow?
We got one more day
to finish Operation Stitch.
No matter what it costs?
You know the answer to that.
Casey, you leave me no alternative.
I'm relieving you of your command
with immediate effect.
I'm sorry, my boy.
I'm going to recommend
you for the Legion of Merit.
Mr. Brockhurst?
Well, you better get the lead out.
He's leaving at 10:00.
Good evening, sergeant.
Good evening, sir.
- Anything from General Kane?
- No, sir.
- What's all that racket outside?
- Just some visitors from the 32nd, sir.
Well, call the guardhouse.
Excuse me, sir.
May I attend to this for you, sir?
Hey, you out there.
Go back to your group and shut up!
Who's telling me to shut up?
I am.
Do you know who I am?
I don't wanna know who you are.
Well, I am
Captain George Washington Bellpepper Lee.
Well, I am
Technical Sergeant lmmanuel T. Evans.
Oh, a technical sergeant, huh?
Speaking for
Brigadier General Clifton I. Garnet.
Thank you, sir.
Thank you, sergeant.
- Ask Colonel Haley to step in.
- Yes, sir.
This is a very special night, sir.
They're veterans.
A little oxygen in the morning
will fix them right up.
You see, sir, they know they can fly
a milk run tomorrow sound asleep.
Does the division just assume that if I'm
left on my own I would order a milk run?
I'm not assuming, sir.
That's what I came in to ask.
Well, we'd better start
thinking about it, major.
Ask Major Lansing to bring me the folders
on the naval targets in France.
You asked for me, sir?
Yes, Earnie.
Does Kane usually wait this long
to give us the target?
That depends on what
the target will be, sir.
According to this directive
you showed me...
Yes, sir. If we've no word from
General Kane's headquarters by 1900...
...the choice of the target
will be up to you.
I see.
Tell me, Earnie...
Well, now that we're going to be so close,
couldn't you at least stand at ease?
Yes, sir.
Do you really think that the change
of command has helped morale?
All generals look alike to them, sir.
They feel a new general is always good
for a couple of soft missions.
All right, Haley. Thank you.
- I didn't order coffee.
- You will, sir.
- What else will I need, Evans?
- You'll need a new sergeant, sir.
- You're going to work for General Dennis?
- No, sir. He wouldn't take me.
I've decided to go to Nevada
to teach gunnery.
You've decided?
- What do you think this Army is?
- I'd rather not answer that, sir.
But War Department circular 69587-3...
...says applications from graduate gunners
to teach aerial gunnery will be accepted.
Well, if the circular authorizes it...
- Evans.
- Yes, sir.
- You are a graduate gunner?
- Yes, sir, 28 missions.
Would it be too much to ask these boys
for a tough one tomorrow?
I don't know, sir.
You must know
from your own experience.
Never had this experience, sir.
Nobody in the Army ever
asked me anything. They just told me.
Captain Lee reports his presence, sir.
Captain George Washington
Bellpepper Lee, sir.
Lee, you're drunk.
Yes, sir.
I've come in to report myself
for that, sir...
...and to apologize for singing
under your window and then running away.
- Get out of here and go to bed.
- I'm sorry, sir.
This hasn't happened before
and it won't again.
Did you go to Schweinhafen today?
Yes, sir.
I went to Schweinhafen today.
I went to Schweinhafen yesterday...
...and I went to Posenleben on Friday.
I've been to Hamburg...
...and Bremen and Kiel...
...Schweinfurt, Regensburg...
Excuse me, sir.
I only meant to say I've been to 24 of them
without taking a drink...
...and I'm ashamed of myself for singing
under your window on Easter Sunday.
You go to bed, Lee.
It's all right.
Even if it isn't Easter Sunday.
I beg your pardon, sir.
It's my Easter Sunday.
- Yours?
- Yes, sir.
Resurrection, sir.
Today was my 24th.
See, all I gotta do now
is knock off one more little milk run...
...and I can go home
and live the rest of my life.
Well, don't behave like this at home.
I wouldn't think of it, sir.
I'm getting married.
Well, congratulations.
Yes, sir.
We almost did before I came over...
...but, well, sir, I thought
she'd worry more that way.
I see.
Well, you get to bed. Best of luck.
Thank you, sir.
And a happy Easter to you, sir.
Here are the folders on those channel port
targets, general. Calais, Dunkirk, Brest.
- What are these?
- Pictures from the last group...
...over Schweinhafen, sir.
Look at those hits on the milling shop.
They did a wonderful job.
- Then it's complete?
- Schweinhafen is complete, sir.
I see.
Major, I'd like to ask you a question.
Yes, sir?
If you had to decide tomorrow's mission
for General Kane...
...would you attack Fendelhorst?
Fendelhorst, sir?
I'm thankful
I don't have to decide that.
But if you did?
Sir, I'm afraid my decision
would be influenced by a personal reason.
May I ask what it is?
General, I regret intruding this upon your
consideration, but since you ask me...
...I have a son training now
in a combat infantry division, assault.
When those jets have stopped
our bombardment...
...they'll make the deadliest strafing planes
ever used against ground troops.
I'm sorry, sir, but I couldn't help thinking
of my boy going up a beach against them.
Yes, but what if your boy were flying
a bomber tomorrow?
I hope I'd send him
to Fendelhorst, sir.
Message from General Kane, sir.
Good. Read it.
"General Kane compelled to attend...
...ambassador's dinner
for congressmen, London.
Pursuant to directive,
selection of tomorrow's target...
...will be responsibility
of senior commander.
General Kane desires express confidence
in General Garnet's discretion...
...based on weather.
Signed, Malloway for Kane."
I don't know about that. From the eccentric
way that cold mass has developed...
Never mind the genealogy, major.
The synoptic situation
will be highly unfavorable.
That will mean bad weather
for quite some time.
- And tomorrow?
- Well, tomorrow you're all right.
I understand that, major.
Oh, Casey. Sorry, I didn't see you.
Come in, old man.
That'll be all, gentlemen.
I'll let you know my decision.
- Goodbye, general.
- Goodbye.
See you at the plane, Casey.
- Bye again, sir. Good luck.
- Goodbye.
Goodbye, sir.
I hope I catch up with you again
one of these days.
I hope so, Lansing.
Sir, when you get your new assignment,
I'd sure like to...
I'll see what I can do, George.
Sit down, Casey.
They reported my plane's ready.
Boys are loading my stuff.
Oh, what's all the rush?
The orders said,
"with immediate effect," Cliff.
I'm taking Ted's
personal things to Helen.
- Good. You'll go see her right away?
- Of course.
You got any idea of what
they're going to do with you?
Oh, I guess I still rate
a training command.
I'd like to get one
out west somewhere...
...where I could have Kathy
and the kids with me.
Get a day off now and then,
take the boy fishing.
I was the boy
that wanted to fight the Japs...
...get that B-29 command.
I'm envying you already.
You've got a good job right here.
- Good luck, Cliff.
- You can't run out on me like this.
What am I gonna do?
You're going to command, Clifton,
and you'll be paid the first of every month.
I had a boy in
to see me tonight. A pilot.
Nice, attractive young kid
with a lot of guts.
They're all attractive kids
with a lot of guts.
I know, but he gave me
a kind of personal slant.
There's no room in this job
for a personal slant, Cliff.
He told me he was going to be married.
Yes, I know.
You can only hope you don't have
to kill him before he does.
It's your baby, Cliff.
I found out long ago to let
the chaplain handle those.
He's our liaison with headquarters
that decides that.
Casey, what's happened to you?
The same thing that's going
to happen to you.
And the sooner I get out of here,
the sooner you'll get to work.
Yeah, but when you first came over here,
you had Ted to talk to.
- At least...
- Yes, I had Ted.
That's one thing I've done for you, Cliff.
I've killed Ted.
You won't have to do that.
Casey, you've hated this.
Every minute of it, haven't you?
Oh, I've had worse commands.
You can be glad
you didn't have to run a group.
That is personal.
You see them at meals,
and you get to know a lot of them.
It's rough enough when you start
counting in...
...the really bad ones
you ordered yourself.
You'll find that you get their faces
all mixed up sometimes.
The kids just coming in
on the replacement trucks...
...and the ones you've already killed.
But then when you start feeling sorry
for yourself...
...think of what
they've got to go through.
There's only one thing you can really do
for them, Cliff.
Make every one of them count.
See that they're not used up for nothing.
Maybe you can keep their kid brothers
from coming over here.
Here's the list prepared for you, sir.
A list?
Yes, sir. You ordered it, sir.
Read it.
"Expectancy of losses from flak against
naval targets at French channel ports.
Brest, 4.9, Cherbourg, 3.4...
...Calais, 2.2, Dunkirk, 1.6...
...Dieppe, 1.4..."
- That's enough.
Earnie, how did my goodbye present
to the boys finally average out?
The losses were 24 percent Friday,
26 percent yesterday...
...and 29 percent today, sir.
Quite a difference between those
and the channel ports, Casey, huh?
Many differences, Cliff.
...notify the divisions
and all our groups...
...that tomorrow, the 5th division
will attack Fendelhorst.
Yes, sir.
General, good luck.
Save me a job in that training
command, will you?
Change of orders for General Dennis, sir.
- Oh, no, you don't.
- From Washington, sir.
I've got my orders. I've gone. Home.
Sorry, sir. This is from the chief.
We're instructed
to relay the message to your plane.
"With immediate effect, General Dennis
will proceed via Gibraltar...
...Cairo, Karachi, Calcutta,
and Chongqing to..."
Casey, this is the biggest thing
that could happen to any of us.
It means a B-29 command.
No. They can't.
They can't.
Cliff, does it say
"with immediate effect"?
I'm afraid it does, Casey.
Think you could fix Sergeant Evans up
with emergency travel orders?
I'll walk them through myself, sir.
General, all the best.
Thanks, Brockhurst.
- So long, Casey.
- So long, Cliff.
- Goodbye, Casey.
- Goodbye, Earnie.
- Goodbye, sir.
- Goodbye, sergeant.
If the strike photos on Fendelhorst
are good tomorrow...
...why don't you send him one?
I already thought of that.