A real storm in a Chinese teacup is stirred up when Justin Rolfe, cleared but still smeared by a Court Martial proceeding, is commissioned to the - a ""poor, flogged out gunboat"", and sent to the small island of Santu to evacuate its British residents now threatened by a Chinese Communist invasion. Rolfe, drinking to ease his injuries, has a mixed crew aboard, and once at Santu faces further opposition from the wealthy tea-planter Laker with no desire to leave his island. For higher motives, Felton, the local doctor, resists deserting his native practice with the ""empire builders"" but he sends his sister Judith away, and Judith gives Rolfe something further to live for. There are many final scenes of devastation and violence: the plantations are fired- by Laker; the Wagtail shelled and pursued by a destroyer; but Rolfe is able to prove his courage and his worthiness, along with that of the obsolescent Wagtail..... There is concentrated tension here, and the handling is firm and fit.