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As the remnants of an American battalion fights the German army for control of a French village, four soldiers recall how they came to the battlefields of World War I. The first young wounded soldier, Russell, called "Bud," begs his commanding officer, Sergeant Bill Thatcher, to tell his mother that he had been selfish and then recalls the following scene: Although his mother pleads with him to stay on the farm and not jeopardize his life in a faraway war, he ignores her and enlists. After telling his story, Bud dies in Bill's arms. Soon after, in France, another dying soldier, Lew Cavanaugh, recounts to Bill how he came to enlist: A wealthy New York playboy, Lew invites Ina, his latest conquest, to his apartment. When his former mistress telephones, Lew puts her off by telling her that he has enlisted in the army. Ina, overhearing the lie, proudly throws her arms around Lew and, assuming that he will be shipped out the next morning, promises to give him a night to remember. In France, after he is nicked in the ear by a passing bullet, "K-P" private Jim Mobley remembers his wife, "Mlle." Fritzi, a vaudeville knife thrower who doesn't understand why men wage war, and who becomes very upset when her housekeeping husband announces his intention to enlist. Back on the battle grounds, Jim finds Bill at the machine gun and listens as he tells the story of his fiancée in New Orleans: On the day before their wedding, Bill informs German-born Katherine that he would rather fight Germans overseas than marry a German in America. Despite her impassioned call to reason, Katherine cannot convince Bill that war is meaningless. Before blowing up a German-controlled bridge, Bill confesses to Jim that Katherine was wiser than he. After Jim and Bill are shelled, they are taken to a Red Cross hospital, where Katherine finds them and convinces the German doctors to allow her to donate blood for Bill's life-saving transfusion. Armistice is declared, and generously decorated, Bill and Jim toast to peace with Katherine.