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In 1940, Helen Chapman and Annie Taylor set out to seek independence and do their bit for the war effort. Helen wants to be a nurse but Annie, a talented flautist, is escaping from home, bitter because although she has won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, her father has refused permission. As Red Cross volunteer aid detachment nursing auxiliaries, they are assigned to an RAF hospital in Southern England. Work is hard, discipline firm, and fraternising with patients forbidden. Here they find love and tragedy. Their rivalry for Will Longford, an Australian pilot injured when he bails out of his stricken Spitfire, threatens to destroy their lifelong friendship. As they come of age during the turmoil of war, the secrets they keep and the lies they tell haunt Helen. Will is enigmatic and keeps his own secret.