Americans Sgt. Peter O'Gaffney and one of his soldiers, privileged "pretty boy" W. Daingerfield Phelps III (who is always drawing caricatures), are captured and interred at a POW camp in Northern Germany near the end of WWI. Their relationship has always been an antagonistic one based on what Phelps sees as O'Gaffney pushing him around. O'Gaffney's rank is despite being wanted by the police back home as a con man. It is because of these differences that their resulting friendship at camp is so unlikely, the friendship based on both having the nerve to attempt to escape. On a snow-covered day, they do manage to escape, in part by stealing white robes to camouflage themselves against the snow. In their adventures and misadventures on the outside in trying to get to safety, those adventures which include being mistaken for Arab prisoners, they find themselves as stowaways on board a cargo ship headed to Arabia. It is there that they meet a beautiful Arab woman named Mirza, who they save from drowning. They are both immediately smitten by her, which is why they are so disappointed to learn that she is betrothed in an arranged marriage to the ruthless Shevket Ben Ali. As the two try to reach the safety of an American consulate, they also decide to try and liberate Mirza, which may be more dangerous than fighting in the trenches in the battlefields of France.