Gift Horse


Directed By

Compton Bennett


80 years ago in 1942, The Royal Navy pulled off perhaps the greatest raid of WWII with Operation Chariot, a daring foray into Nazi-held territory in Northern France to destroy the heart of their ship repair operations. Gift Horse is a dramatisation of these events and the journey leading up to it of a recommissioned US naval destroyer and her heroic crew.

In 1940, the Royal Navy is frantically recruiting for WWII so pulls Lieutenant Commander Fraser (Trevor Howard, The Third Man, Brief Encounter), out of retirement to captain the HMS Ballantrae, herself recently re-commissioned and lent by the Americans to a seriously under-resourced British Navy. Despite an inauspicious start and multiple repairs, Fraser crafts the ship and its crew into an efficient fighting force, culminating in a daring mission to destroy a French dockyard which is crucial to the Nazis in maintaining their formidable battleships. The climax of the film is a fictional account of the real-life St Nazaire Raid of 1942 AKA Operation Chariot – led by a ship very similar to the Gift Horse itself, and celebrated as The Greatest Raid of All. Also starring Richard Attenborough (Brighton Rock, The Angry Silence) and Sid James (The Carry On series).

Trevor Howard, Richard Attenborough, Sonny Tufts, James Donald, Bernard Lee, Dora Bryan, Hugh Williams, Robin Bailey, Meredith Edwards, Joan Rice
Other Credits

Written by William Fairchild, Hugh Hastings and William Rose

Release Date
4 April 2022
  • New Operation Chariot and HMS Campbeltown: James Dorrian Remembers the Real Gift Horse
  • Ceremony Commemorating 5 Year Anniversary of the St Nazaire Raid (1947)
  • Behind the Scenes Stills Gallery
  • Original Trailer
Restoration Details

For the 2022 restoration of Gift Horse, STUDIOCANAL went back to the original camera negative which was scanned and restored in 4K to produce a brand new HD master

Related Titles

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Claude Whattham1973
Ken Hughes1963
Jacques Tourneur1951
George More O’Ferrall1952
Claude Whatham1974