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At the beginning of 1917, we see Blake and Schofield chatting on their way to receiving their orders, giving the audience a taste of their personalities and friendship. Right after Schofield shares with a hungry Blake his modest snack stash, they have this exchange (I bolded lines I have questions about):

Blake: (grimaces) Tastes like old shoe.

Schofield: (impassive) Cheer up, this time next week it'll be chicken dinner.

Blake: Not me. (shrugs) My leave got cancelled.

Schofield: They say why?

Blake: No idea.

Schofield: (grimly) It's easier not to go back at all.

They stop walking as some soldiers carrying supplies move past. Blake and Schofield continue on their way.

Blake: (looking back at the soldiers) Something's up! Did you hear anything?

Schofield: No.

Blake: Has to be the push right? Ten bob says we're going up.

Schofield: I'm not taking that bet.

Blake: (smirks for a split second) Why, cuz you know I'm right?

Schofield: No, cuz you haven't got ten bob.

  1. By "chicken dinner", I'm guessing Schofield meant returning home for proper meals, but I'm not sure. How plausible is it that WWI trench soldiers got chicken for dinner?

  2. No idea what "it's easier not to go back at all" meant. My first guess was that he thought upcoming military plans (like "the push") required more soldiers to stay. But Schofield denies hearing any news, even when Blake attempts to goad him into revealing something. I can't imagine Schofield has any reason to hide news or rumors from Blake, so if that line was not about a military plan, what was it about?

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It's clear from the Blake's and Schofield's conversation much later in movie that Schofield didn't liked going back home. It's the conversation when they are talking about exchanging medal for wine bottle.

I hated going home. I hated it. When I knew I couldn't stay, when I knew I had to leave and they might never see 'em...

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    I loved that scene, and I didn't make the connection between it and the scene in my question, thanks so much! – BatWannaBe Mar 22 '20 at 3:11
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this time next week it'll be chicken dinner.

Yes, he's saying that Blake will be having proper meals while on leave.

It's easier not to go back at all.

This one is a little more vague but my interpretation is that going home is great but you still have to come back and that is incredibly depressing.

So it's better not going so you don't have the experience of losing/missing what you have back home all over again.

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Previous answers have well covered the chicken dinner aspect of the question.

It's easier not to go back at all.

If you read memoirs of WWI (or really any war), soldiers who have been in combat sometimes feel alienated from the civilians at home. They have seen, and perhaps done things, that would be regarded as appalling in the civilian world. In the Britain of WWI, "decent people" wouldn't swear, let alone tell funny anecdotes about tripping and putting your hand into the chest cavity of a long dead corpse, or about someone diving into a ditch full of human excrement during an artillery bombardment. This made front line soldiers at home feel constrained because they had to watch their tongues around their civilian relatives. Better to be back among their comrades who understood what was what.

People wanted to know, you know, what it was like because I was the first casualty in our village. I was the first one, and I was wounded on May the 3rd. And I happened to be the very first casualty, so of course it all went round and everybody I met wanted to know what it was like. And I told them it was some kind of hell. Which it was. And it was impossible to tell them really just how it was. You told them the story of how men were at one moment were alive, and the next moment they were dead. You know, it was just like that. People didn’t seem to realise, you know, what a terrible thing war was, they didn’t. You couldn’t convey the awful state of things where you lived like animals and behaved like animals. They just didn’t understand it…

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