In 1915 a local newspaper reported on an interview with Corporal Joseph Carriere, who was on leave from the Hednesford Territorials and spending time with his family in Cross Street, Heath Hayes.
When asked how the men from the Hednesford Territorial’s were coping on the front line he replied: ‘We are all right. The chaps seem cheerful enough out there. They have been engaged in the trenches and were anxious to get to grips with the enemy. Their work was proving vastly superior to that of the Germans. The men were never short of a good meal and there were always plenty of cigarettes’ and tobacco’.
Corporal Carriere’s statement sounds convincing but contradicts many other reports of World War One trench life. In fact Corporal Carriere’s statement is a good example of how historical sources can sometimes prove difficult to interpret.
In this case perhaps Corporal Carrieres experience of trench life was better than that of other World War One soldiers – or maybe his account was said to reassure his family or other local families that all was well on the front line? Another reason was that Corporal Carriere’s account was ‘portrayed’ in this way to encourage other local men to enlist?