HMS Ballantrae is an ex-U.S. Navy destroyer - one of fifty lent by the Americans in 1940 to a desperate Royal Navy fighting to keep the Atlantic sea lanes open. The ship is old and desperately in need of a major refit, but is almost immediately pressed into service on convoy escort duty. Her new captain, Lt. Commander Fraser (Trevor Howard), struggles to keep her operational, while dealing with problems arising from his own, chequered past. The crew are mostly new recruits, raw, inexperienced and unused to navy discipline. Somehow, Fraser must shape them into a formidable fighting unit as they run the lethal gauntlet of U-Boats and German bombers... Just as HMS Ballantrae seems to have overcome her problems, she is selected to play a vital role in one of the most daring commando raids of the entire war - a mission from which the ship is intended never to return... "Gift Horse" offers an authentic and moving portrayal of life on board a Royal Navy ship during World War Two. It was made with the full cooperation of both the Admiralty and the St. Nazaire Society, and is broadly based on dramatic, real life events.