April 6th, 1917. As a regiment assembles to wage war deep in enemy territory, two soldiers are assigned to race against time and deliver a message that will stop 1,600 men from walking straight into a deadly trap.
April 1917, the Western Front. Two British soldiers are sent to deliver an urgent message to an isolated regiment. If the message is not received in time the regiment will walk into a trap and be massacred. To get to the regiment they will need to cross through enemy territory. Time is of the essence and the journey will be fraught with danger.
April 6, 1917. On a battlefield in Northern France, Lance Corporal Tom Blake with the British Army is asked to choose one of his battalion colleagues to join him on an assignment, he choosing his best friend, Lance Corporal Will Schofield. It isn't until Blake chooses Schofield that they learn of the dangerous nature of the mission: to hand deliver a message to Colonel MacKenzie leading another nearby battalion, they having to cross no man's land to what they have been told are now the abandoned German trenches to get to MacKenzie just past the nearby town of Écoust. The message, which must reach its destination by dawn tomorrow, is for MacKenzie to abort his troop's attack then on the supposedly retreating Germans who are in reality lying in wait, the Germans having planned this deception for months. The lives of MacKenzie and his 1,600 men are at risk if the message does not make it through in time, one of those men being Blake's brother, Lt. Joseph Blake. Blake and Schofield's stories as it pertains to them as soldiers in the bigger picture of the war, as soldiers trying to stay alive, as friends, and as human beings who have their own motivations are told for as long as they are able to survive on this mission.
It's been already three devastating years into the costly World War I, and the Imperial German Army seems to have retreated from their position in the battle-scarred Western Front--an elaborate scheme designed to lure the Allies into a deadly trap. On April 6, 1917--with the lives of 1,600 fellow soldiers hanging by a thread--the best friends and British Army Lance Corporals, Tom Blake and Will Schofield, undertake a peril-laden mission to hand-deliver an urgent, life-saving message to Colonel MacKenzie's Second Battalion of the Devonshire line infantry regiment. With this in mind, amid the horrors of an uncannily silent no man's land, the young brothers-in-arms must traverse nine long miles of hostile enemy terrain in the French countryside, to reach the 2nd Devons in time and call off the imminent attack. Now, two ordinary troopers walk into certain death. What makes a true hero?
British trenches somewhere in France. World war has been going on for the third year, heroic illusions have dissipated; general mood - boredom and fatigue. Stuff the belly, sleep, return home to Christmas Eve. On another quiet day, when nothing happens, two young soldiers, Blake and Schofield, are summoned to the general, who instructs them to send an important message to Colonel MacKenzie in the Second Devonshire Battalion, whose telephone connection was cut off by the enemy.
During World War I, two British soldiers -- Lance Cpl. Schofield and Lance Cpl. Blake -- receive seemingly impossible orders. In a race against time, they must cross over into enemy territory to deliver a message that could potentially save 1,600 of their fellow comrades -- including Blake's own brother.
- On 6 April 1917, aerial reconnaissance has observed that the German army, which has pulled back from a sector of the Western Front in northern France, is not in retreat but has made a strategic withdrawal to the new Hindenburg Line, where they are waiting to overwhelm the British with artillery. In the British trenches, with field telephone lines cut, two young British soldiers, Lance Corporals William Schofield, a veteran of the Somme, and Tom Blake, are ordered by General Erinmore to carry a message to Colonel Mackenzie of the Second Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment, calling off a scheduled attack that would jeopardise the lives of 1,600 men, including Blake's brother Lieutenant Joseph Blake.
Schofield and Blake cross no man's land to reach the abandoned German trenches. In an underground barracks, they discover a booby-trap tripwire, which is promptly triggered by a rat. The explosion almost kills Schofield, but Blake saves him, and the two escape. They arrive at an abandoned farmhouse, where they witness a German plane being shot down. Schofield and Blake drag the burned pilot from the plane. However, the pilot stabs Blake and is shot dead by Schofield. Schofield comforts Blake as he dies, promising to complete the mission and to write to Blake's mother. Schofield is then picked up by a passing British unit.
A destroyed canal bridge near Écoust-Saint-Mein prevents the British lorries from crossing. Schofield chooses to part with them at the bridge, but before he does, one of the unit's officers Captain Smith, warns Schofield that Colonel Mackenzie is someone who would rather fight than follow orders. He then uses what is left of the bridge to cross alone, and quickly comes under fire from a German sniper. He and the sniper shoot each other simultaneously; the sniper is killed, while Schofield is knocked unconscious. He regains consciousness at night, and finds the town in flames. He is discovered by German soldiers, who open fire. Schofield escapes the soldiers by hiding in the basement of an abandoned building, and stumbles into the hiding place of a French woman with an infant. She treats his wounds, and he comforts the infant by reciting a poem, giving the woman his canned food and milk from the farm. Despite her pleas, Schofield leaves soon after, realising that time is not on his side. He encounters more German soldiers, strangling one and pushing past another who is inebriated. Being chased, he escapes by jumping into a river. He is swept over a waterfall before reaching the riverbank by morning. In the forest, he finds D Company of the 2nd Devons, which is in the last wave of the attack. As the company starts to move toward the front, Schofield tries to reach Colonel Mackenzie.
Realising that the trenches are too crowded for him to make it to Mackenzie in time, Schofield sprints across the battlefield, just as the infantry begins its charge. He forces his way into meeting Mackenzie, who reads the message and reluctantly calls off the attack. Mackenzie says that, while the cancellation offers a temporary reprieve, command will likely change its orders in a week. Schofield is told that Joseph was in the first wave, and he searches for him among the wounded, finding him unscathed. Joseph is upset to hear of his brother's death, but thanks Schofield for his efforts. Schofield gives Joseph his brother's rings and dog tag, and asks to write to their mother about Blake's heroics, to which Joseph agrees. Schofield sits under a tree, looking at photographs of his wife and two daughters.