British battleship HMS Formidable is leading a small squadron taking part in gunnery exercises in the Channel. The seas are rough, too rough for a successful attack by enemy U-boats. Or so the British think, but they are mistaken. Germany’s U-24 is operating in the area and it manages to hit the Formidable with a torpedo. The ship tries to make for port but a second hit seals the ship’s fate. It sinks, with the loss of 547 sailors and the captain’s dog.
A lift raft from the ship is washed ashore near Lyme Regis, but the harsh weather has exacted its toll: the men aboard are all dead. The cellar of a local pub is used as a makeshift mortuary for the unfortunate sailors. Then Lassie, the pub dog, makes its way down to the cellar and starts nuzzling one of the sailors, licking his face and snuggling up to him to keep him warm. And then a miracle occurs: the sailor stirs. Able Seaman John Cowan had been left for dead, but Lassie has brought him back to life.