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In 1943, after battling the Germans in the San Pietro Mountains of Italy, the exhausted survivors of the 36th Division are given five days of rest, but are, at first, too exhausted to enjoy it. While other men sleep, Sgt. Peterson, who is troubled over the death of his runner, Pfc. Minto, wanders through the rest camp and ends up at a cemetery. There he meets a WAC, Lt. Eleanor MacKay, and tired and bitter, he is rude when she refuses to have a drink with him. The next day, Pete's superior officer, Maj. Blackford, tells him he is being promoted to lieutenant, and after the ceremony, takes him to a popular cafe, Mamma Mia's, to celebrate. The cafe is filled with servicemen, including one of Pete's men, Sgt. McFee, who is upset because he has received no letters from his wife. Assuring him that the mail has been misdirected, Pete takes McFee to the mail center to straighten it out and again encounters Eleanor, who, finding him different than the night before, offers to buy him a drink. They proceed to Mamma Mia's, but seeing them together, Blackford takes Pete aside and warns him that he is wasting his time with Eleanor. Eleanor overhears the conversation and leaves, and when Pete catches up, she assures him that the major is correct. After agreeing that they will just have a drink, they go to a hillside restaurant, where Eleanor laments how war has degraded relationships between men and women. On the rainy ride back, Eleanor tells Pete how she joined the Army to preserve a way of life, and although she admits that she likes him, she repels his advances. An air raid sends them for cover, but still she resists him, saying she does not want to fall in love and then lose him. Frustrated, he takes her home, refusing to listen when she tells him about the man she knew who is buried in the cemetery where they met. They separate unhappily and at breakfast the next day at Mamma's, Pete is still moping. Seeing that McFee has finally received letters from his wife, Pete discusses love with Blackford, who is skeptical of it all. Orders come in canceling the rest of the men's leave, but before returning, Pete looks for Eleanor and finally finds her waiting for him at the camp. After talking about their feelings, they decide to marry during Pete's next leave, and Pete goes off to battle. Blackford is killed the next day, and although Pete knows he could not have helped him, he also knows that he has been playing it safe because of Eleanor. Shortly after, Pete is wounded and wakes up in a hospital fifteen days later. The healing of his leg, according to the doctor, is being impeded by the psychological wounds he is harboring. Eleanor comes to him after she gets word through the mail room of his whereabouts, and he begins to convalesce and is later reclassified by the Army to a non-combat status. Wanting some time alone together, Eleanor arranges with her friend, Lea Maduvalli, to spend a few days at her family's home with Pete, and while they are there, they marry in a local church. However, on their last night at the Maduvallis', Pete is restless with memories of his colleagues' deaths and makes the decision to return to combat, as he has acquired some of Eleanor's idealism and desire to preserve a way of life. They part after agreeing to meet later in Rome, and Pete jumps on a truck heading toward his former battalion. Later, while scouting the village of Veletri, which turns out to be German-occupied, Pete is separated from his men and fired upon. Meanwhile, Eleanor has learned that she is pregnant and her supervisor, Maj. Waldron, is required to send her back to the States. As Eleanor begs to be released in Italy, so she can meet Pete in Rome as they have planned, McFee shows up and tells her that Pete has been reported missing in action and presumed dead. Refusing to believe he is dead, Eleanor proceeds to headquarters to find out what happened, asking and searching everywhere. When she hears that the Germans have pulled out of Rome, she goes there and searches the crowded streets for any sign of him. Finally, she talks to a man who knew a Peterson at the work camp where he was imprisoned. Following the man's lead, she finds Pete hobbling up the steps of a hospital. His leg injury has returned and will probably be permanent, but they are finally reunited as victory bells peal.