In 1916, the British Army suffered their bloodiest and most severe defeat ever in the Battle of the Somme; The Trench focuses on the awful prelude to the battle as seen through the eyes of a group of inexperienced soldiers. Billy Macfarlane (Paul Nicholls) is a 17-year-old boy who joined the Army to fight alongside his older brother Eddie (Tam Williams), whom he worships. As the members of their platoon wait for fighting to commence, Eddie climbs up on a hill to see what the German forces are up to. He's immediately hit by sniper fire, suffering a severe injury, and soon another man in the unit is killed. Suddenly the ugly reality of battle has been introduced to the soldiers, few of whom are out of their teens. While their commanders inform them bombing has wiped out most of the enemy troops, the continued attacks convince them this may not be the truth. The Trench marked the directorial debut of novelist William Boyd, whose books have often dealt with the First World War.