Why was the route taken by Blake and Schofield in 1917 considered the best possible route to reach the Devons to deliver the order to stop the attack?

They had to go through No Man's Land, through an area that was abandoned by the Germans (though they weren't 100% sure it was completely abandoned) and then through a German controlled village in order to get to the Devons' batallion.

I understand that bulges and the like can exist in the lines so this might be the shortest route distance-wise, but surely the area that the Devons control is connected to British controlled territory somehow, why couldn't they simply drive a jeep (or whatever the WWI equivalent is) through British territory to get there? Even if they had to go around a longer way it would have surely been faster than walking?

  • In the movie you saw that the roads were blocked by germans, (they needed many soldiers to pass the barriers), also bridges were destroyed so jeep couldn't go through
    – Ori Marko
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 11:23

1 Answer 1


I think that the answer is that it was the best possible route based on their intelligence. At that moment in time they had to trust the information that they had at hand, both that the ambush had been set and that the Germans had ordered a full retreat.

They had to assume that it was entirely abandoned, or even if there were scouts or snipers still left there, then traveling the shortest distance was still safer, as those scouts would not have revealed their location in the presence of a larger force and might still be waiting to catch messengers behind enemy lines.

They couldn't trust that there would be enough infrastructure to drive a jeep all the way there. If the retreating Germans had sabotaged the telephone lines, they would have certainly sabotaged the roads as well.

Having 2 messengers was the most likely way to get them to their destination, as they could move quickly and secretly, and change their route easily if needed to.

The fact that Schofield risked going through the German-held village at all was because he had no map (so it was the only reference point he had) and he had no idea what time it was (so couldn't waste the time to go around it). If he had the map and it had still been daytime then he would have found another way to reach his destination, an option that someone driving a jeep wouldn't have.

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