One night the magnetic Major Doucette leads a crackerjack team of men into Townsville harbour, where they soundlessly attach dummy mines to the allied ships anchored there. The success of this brazen venture convinces the military authorities to sanction Operation Cornflakes. With darkened skin and suicide tablets around their necks, Doucette and his men re-enact their undertaking, stealing into the port at Singapore, attaching mines to Japanese ships and sinking tons of enemy warships. Returning to Australia, the heroes are met with astonished praise by their generals and eagerly plan for the next, more ambitious adventure—Operation Memerang.
This time, they aren’t so lucky. The plan goes awry; the escape is botched; the men confront the Japanese on an island south of Indonesia, where they are swiftly overwhelmed. Those who aren’t killed are returned to Singapore, put on trial and beheaded.
Doucette’s best officer, Captain Leo Waterhouse, is one of the captured. It is Leo’s personal story as told by his widow Grace that forms the centrepiece of the novel. The young, handsome Leo bears a resemblance to Errol Flynn. And his bride Grace, who is deeply in love with him, builds a story of romance and heroism around him in order to deal with her fears for his safety and. . . .