Professor Alan Stacy visits Jersey to complete his biography of his friend and pre-World War II fellow academic Harry Martineau, but arrives on the day of Harry’s funeral. Only one mourner is present, Dr Sarah Drayton. Invited back to her house, he is told by Sarah that the two of them worked for Special Operations Executive during the war. She shows Stacy a photo of them posing with Field-Marshal Rommel, and then tells the story behind the photo.
In the aftermath of the Slapton Sands disaster, Hugh Kelso, a US Army colonel, is washed ashore on Jersey, He is rescued by Hélène de Ville, who contacts London. Brigadier Dougal Munro of SOE is aware that Kelso is one of the few officers who know the details of the D-Day landings. He decides that Kelso must either be rescued or eliminated.
He recruits Harry Martineau, a former academic and ruthless killer, now retired, and also Sarah Drayton, a nurse with connections in, and local knowledge of, Jersey. Harry is persuaded to undertake one last job. Having previously operated in Germany, he becomes SD Standartenführer Max Vogel. He is supplied with a forged letter of authority signed by Hitler and Himmler. Sarah’s cover is that of Anne-Marie de la Tour, his expensive French mistress.
The two are smuggled to France and then travel to occupied Jersey. Harry sails on a naval vessel, but Sarah, as a civilian, must travel on a cargo boat commanded by Captain Guido Orsini. Kelso is alarmed by their arrival, as he knows of Harry’s reputation as a cold-blooded killer. The plan to evacuate the wounded Kelso is upset by the arrival of Rommel on a surprise tour of inspection. But no-one of the party, and only one of the German officers, is aware that ‘Rommel’ is actually Corporal Erich Berger, an actor who is Rommel’s double. Rommel has been drawn into a plot to assassinate Hitler and needs to be temporarily away from Germany.
A small airplane is sitting at the airfield for the weekly mail flight, but the flight cannot be commandeered except by special authority. Harry unmasks ‘Rommel’ as Berger and gets him to give that authority. Berger agrees to cooperate, and reveals that he is actually Heini Baum, a German Jew who has assumed the identity of the dead Berger and has survived as a soldier.
The operation is nearly upset by the arrival of a German policeman who holds them at gunpoint, but he is overpowered and placed in a car which is set on fire and pushed over a cliff. Sarah, Harry, ‘Rommel’ and Orsini, who has agreed to assist them, commandeer the plane and fly towards France. The crew are overpowered and ordered to fly to England.
The plan is discovered, too late, but a Luftwaffe night fighter is dispatched to shoot them down. One of the crew is killed and Harry orders the pilot to drop to almost sea-level, drawing down the pursuing fighter, which crashes. They continue to England, now in radio contact with the RAF.
On landing, they are surrounded by armed soldiers. ‘Rommel’ rushes excitedly forward and is shot by a guard, ostensibly by accident but probably on Munro’s orders. As he dies, he begs Harry to say Kaddish for him.
The action returns to the present, and Sarah reveals that she later married Orsini and lived in Florence as Contessa Orsini. She tells Stacy that Harry continued to work for SOE, but was shot down by friendly fire a few months later. His body, buried in the Essex marshes, was not found until recently and he has now received a much belated burial.George Peppard as Harry Martineau/ Standartenfuhrer Max Vogel
Deborah Raffin as Sarah Drayton
John Mills as Dougal Munro
Michael York as Erwin Rommel/Berger/Baum
David Birney as Kelso
Gottfried John as Hofer
Juliet Mills as Barmaid
John Standing as Alan Stacey
George Mikell as Major Hecker
Demeter Bitenc as Col. Halder
Vincent Grass as Greiser