Cast & Crew
In Tunisia during World War II, an American army squad destroys a vital oil field in a daring night mission, but during the soldiers' escape their commanding officer is captured by the German forces. As dawn breaks, the squad is strafed by a German fighter and loses another member. Sgt. Clemens assumes command and informs the others that the captured officer held the only section map, so they cannot find their way back to their command base. Clemens radios the base to request that planes be dispatched to locate them, but the captain refuses, as the soldiers are behind their own lines and the planes would attract German attention. The captain advises Clemens and the squad to remain where they are, promising to send a small rescue party on foot to find them. Clemens refuses to wait in the searing desert, however, and orders the men to head eastward. On their trek, Pvt. Russo asks Pvt. Nelson why the soldier called Lippy never talks, but only fitfully plays a harmonica. During a rest break, Lippy silently reflects upon landing on the African coast where, after witnessing his brother's death on the beach, he picked up his harmonica. Nelson tells Russo that Lippy is the last survivor of three brothers sent to war. As radioman Pvt. Roth complains about the squad's aimless wandering, they are strafed by another German fighter and Lippy is killed. Unknown to the squad, the German pilot then radios their position to a nearby German machine-gun nest. Clemens leads the remaining men on until they come to a small valley where they see five stripped, bound, dead bodies. Clemens orders Nelson to scout ahead, then cautiously examines the bodies and discovers they are American soldiers. When Roth wonders why the soldiers' uniforms were removed, Clemens explains that the Germans know they are behind American lines and are using the uniforms to pose as American soldiers. Russo worries that Nelson will run into the masquerading Germans, but Clemens refuses to let him go after Nelson. Meanwhile Nelson finds the disguised Germans, whose commanding officer's fluent English convinces Nelson to bring the remaining squad members to join them. After Nelson's departure, the Germans prepare to ambush the Americans while their commander comments on their naïveté. Upon Nelson's return to the squad, Clemens questions him closely and, certain that the men are Germans, orders his men to outflank them and attack from the rear. All the Germans are killed in the assault, except the captain, who flees to the nearby hill. When the squad confronts the officer, he defiantly burns his map while berating the Americans. Nelson circles behind the German, but when he freezes in fear and is unable to pull the trigger, Russo kills the captain. As the soldiers continue on their way, Russo assures Nelson that fear is normal. Soon after, the squad receives a radio message of assistance from a British officer. The men pause, unaware that they are directly in front of the German machine-gun nest which then opens fire, killing all the squad members except for Russo. After taking the water canteens off of his dead comrades, Russo crawls into a gully where he is pursued by a German scout. Russo kills his attacker then, hearing the Germans radioing their command, hurls a grenade into the nest. Upon investigating the nest, Russo finds all the Germans dead and takes their undamaged section map, before heading away only to realize that he has wandered into a mine field. Russo attempts to back out of the field, but steps on a mine, seriously injuring his leg. A German officer in the nest, having only been stunned in the blast, revives at Russo's scream. The German spots Russo and informs him in English that he has the mine map. Russo recognizes the German's British accent as the voice on the radio and realizes the squad was lured toward the nest purposely. The German offers to exchange the mine field map for the section map and Russo agrees, but after the German reneges, Russo wounds him in the arm. The men remain at a stalemate for some time until the German attempts to drink water, prompting Russo to shoot a hole in the canteen. With the hot sun blazing upon the two soldiers, the German gradually becomes angry and throws stones at Russo, hoping to detonate another mine. Russo tells the German he may have some of his water if he agrees to give him the mine map and surrender. When Russo gets the map and realizes it is fake, he threatens to shoot the German. The officer then admits to knowing where the mines are placed and after navigating Russo out of the dangerous area, agrees to go along with Russo as his prisoner for more water. As an American search party squad approaches, the German overpowers Russo, takes his rifle and tells him that the Americans can never hope to win the war because of their gullibility. Just then, the search party spots the pair and the American commander pretends to surrender to the German while sending around another soldier to jump him from behind. The German hears the approaching soldier but when he attempts to shoot, he discovers Russo's gun is empty, prompting Russo to laugh hysterically.
Jack N. Kramer
Wally Campo's name was misspelled as "Wally Compo" in the opening credits. The opening and closing cast credits differ slightly in order. Hell Squad was the first film produced, directed and written by Burt Topper (1928-2007).