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During World War II American commando leader Maj. James Wilson requests permission to cross the English Channel and raid a heavily-guarded German naval installation in France that the Nazis call the "Iron Coast." Although Wilson is opposed by Capt. Owen Franklin, whose son was killed in a previous raid led by Wilson, the British Admiralty is so concerned about Allied shipping losses in the Channel that they give Wilson the go-ahead and order Franklin to assist in the preparations. Lieut. Comdr. Donald Kimberley is blinded during the strenuous training sessions; but Wilson, ready to abandon the mission because of the accident and because of Franklin's continued harassment, is nevertheless convinced by Kimberley of the importance of the mission, and the men embark on the dangerous assignment. Just as the raid is to take place, Wilson receives word that the air cover they expected to have has been destroyed in battle, and that he is to return at once to England. Having secured Franklin's support, Wilson ignores the order and proceeds with the original plan. The commandos board a battered British minesweeper packed with explosives, cross the Channel, and successfully ram the dock where the Nazi high command is located. Although he is badly injured and unable to go ashore with the others to destroy secondary targets, Wilson detonates the explosive device on the minesweeper and sacrifices his life in demolishing the Iron Coast.