Two London con artists – a conniving little Cockney (Alfred Lynch) and an amiable, brawny gypsy (a pre-Bond Sean Connery) – enlist in the RAF, one to avoid going to jail and the other for a rest cure.
The duo turns every tour of duty into a money-making scheme, selling fake passes, establishing a profitable connection with a local butcher when they have access to provisions, and running a supply truck when they are sent to France.
The day of reckoning for these enterprising lads finally arrives when the pair wander into the path of the German army and, after killing a number of Nazis, are pinned down inside a shack as darkness descends.
Knowing the Germans can overcome them easily at night, Connery fashions a wick which touches off a fire in their tyre-laden truck. This fire brightens the darkness and keeps the Germans away.
RAF officers, meanwhile, are compiling quite a record of the duo’s financial dealings and are about to put paid to their activities when they learn that the American army, which found Lynch and Connery on the battlefield, are preparing to honour them for gallantry in combat.
This is too much for the astounded RAF brass, who quickly dispose of the past records of the wayward airmen and also bestow medals on Lynch and Connery.
Various bit parts are played by Cecil Parker, Stanley Holloway and Wilfrid Hyde White.
A touch of sex comedy completes the broad humour of this spoof on British military life.
Known as Operation Snafu in the USA.
John Le Mesurier