The story is that of the five Sullivan boys who enlisted in the US Navy immediately after Pearl Harbor and went down with their ship, later to be honored by the christening of a battle-wagon named after them. That is fact, this being the true story of the Sullivans of Waterloo (Ia). It has been done with assumed fidelity and as a documentary account of heroism by the Sullivan family of the small midwestern town.
The first half deals with the five Sullivan lads as little boys, with much homey humor derived from their pranks and the worries they cause their folks. Skipping several years, the second half deals with the boys as adolescents, four of the Sullivans now working on various jobs, while the youngest, Al, is still in high school.
It is here that the romance between Al and Katherine Mary (Anne Baxter) develops, reaching full flower quickly and with a baby born to them. Since the boys had always stuck together through thick and thin, including all the fights they won as little boys, Al goes along with the other four when latter decide to enlist in the Navy.
Outstanding on performance is that of Bobby Driscoll, playing Al when he was a boy of perhaps five or six years old, although Thomas Mitchell, as the father, and others are transcendentally fine in their work.