Alan Cormack is a Royal Marine Commando Captain. Tony Woodward is a Flight Lieutenant with the Royal Air Force.
Circumstances and war will put the two gentlemen together for three exciting adventures, two during the Second World War and one a few years later during the Berlin Blockade in 1948.
Both men are quite interesting fellows.
Cormack was "born and raised in the East End of London, grammar school scholarship (which said a lot about his own academic abilities and the determination of his parents), natural flair for languages (fluent in both French and German, since then learned Dutch to an every day standard), volunteered for the Army on the day war was declared, sent out with the BEF to liaise with the French, awarded a commission (probably to keep the bloody French happy - they were notoriously touchy about rank and status and would not want to be seen talking to Other Ranks, Guthrie thought sourly), won a DSO at Dunkirk (one of the last to be taken off the beach, apparently - now what the hell had he been doing there, when he should have left with the Liaison Staff, days earlier?), transferred to SOE so that his language skills could be put to further use, given Advanced Commando Training, twice - no, three times now - behind enemy lines, each time coming back with the goods. Exemplary career - yet Cormack had been right; his dossier still contained expressions like 'insubordinate', 'disrespectful' and 'unlikely to become a successful senior officer', probably because, despite his ability to speak French and German with absolute fluency, he had never made the slightest effort to rid himself of his East End accent".
Woodward "came from a family that had probably been lords of the manor back in the Middle Ages, a family steeped in tradition, where duty and honour were constantly being re-affirmed and reinforced to the extent that they were a way of life. Woodward's upbringing had been completely different to Cormack's own; Woodward came from a world of wealth and privilege, a world that Cormack had despised." [Woodward] was one of those men "who would unhesitatingly risk their lives, would go to their deaths out of a sense of duty. Call them gullible, naive, foolhardy even: it was probably that sort of attitude that led to the Charge of the Light Brigade, but it was not to be decried. It might be a very simplistic code: Woodward had felt he ought to volunteer because it was the 'decent' thing to do, but he had volunteered all the same." For that reason, Cormack felt that "Woodward deserved his respect...Even if he was a bloody fool."
The two do not know each other when we first meet them, Cormack initially when he is given a near impossible mission to accomplish and Woodward when Cormack's mad plan requires a pilot willing to help out. A couple years later it is Woodward who needs a man of Cormack's skills. And four years after that the situation will be that both men are pulled into an operation separately but gladly work together.