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1917 On the 6th of April, 1917, aerial reconnaissance found that the German army, which has pulled back from a sector of the Western Front in northern France and is not in retreat but has made a tactical retreat towards the Hindenburg Line, where they are waiting to overwhelm the British with artillery. Within the British trenches, with the telephone lines in the field cut in two, young British lance corporals, William Schofield, a veteran of the Somme as well as Tom Blake, are ordered by General Erinmore to relay an email to Colonel Mackenzie of the 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment in order to cancel an attack scheduled for the following morning, which could endanger the lives of 1600 soldiers, including Blake’s brother Joseph, who is a lieutenant.
Schofield and Blake Schofield and Blake no man’s land to reach the abandoned German trenches However, Schofield hurts his hand in the process. In an underground barracks, they discover a tripwire set by the Germans, which is promptly ignited by a rat; the explosion almost kills Schofield, but Blake is able to save him and they escape. They find themselves in an abandoned farmhouse, where there is a German plane is destroyed in an fight with Allied aircraft. The pilot is saved by Blake and Schofield. Blake is able to convince Schofield to supply water to the pilot. After Schofield’s back is turned, the pilot stabs Blake. Schofield kills the pilot and comforts Blake and promises to complete the mission. He also writes to Blake’s mom. A passing British unit snatchs Blake’s rings dog tags and the letter of Erinmore.
A destroyed canal bridge close to Ecoust-Saint-Mein prevents the British trucks from crossing the bridge the bridge, and Schofield decides to cut off them. Schofield makes use of the remaining portion of the bridge for crossing without assistance, and is then subject to fire from the sniper. Schofield and the sniper exchange shots and Schofield responds with. The sniper dies while Schofield is injured in his helmet and knocked unconscious. He wakes up at night and walks through the flame illuminated ruin of the town. After escaping from a German soldier, he finds an French woman hiding with an infant. He was able to heal his injuries and she offered him canned food and milk from the farm he grew on. Schofield is not apathetic and, regardless of her pleas, resigns when she hears the chimes of the nearby clock, and recognizing that the clock is ticking away. He escapes from German soldiers by jumping into the river after they confront him. While the cherry blossoms are in bloom and he’s being carried away by the water. As he approaches the riverbank the man is swept over the water. He is able to locate D Company 2nd Devons in the forest. This is the final wave of battle. Schofield is trying to contact Colonel Mackenzie while the unit moves towards the front.
Realising that the trenches are too overcrowded to make it to Mackenzie at the right time, Schofield goes “over the over the top” and sprints across the battlefield, adjacent to the British trench line, right as the infantry begins its charge. He forces his way in to meet Mackenzie who has read the message and reluctantly declares the attack off. Schofield looks for Blake’s brother and finds him. He was among the first wave. He is bleeding but not injured. Schofield informs Joseph about his mission and Tom’s death. He also passes on Tom’s rings as well as the dog tag. Schofield is deeply concerned about the brother of Joseph, however he thanks him for his work. Schofield requests permission to write to their mother about Tom’s heroics and Joseph agrees. Schofield is exhausted and lies down beneath an adjacent tree to gaze at pictures of his children and wife.