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Date: March 27th 1916
William & Georgina Mercer
Richard Mercer

[transcription and footnotes have been provided by the collection donor]

March 27, 1916
Union Bank of Canada

Dear Father & Mother

Thanks for mittens[7] which I received the other day. Just received your letter this morning. It took it six days to get here.

I am returning Aunt Nellie's[8] letter. I had forgotten all about it. I certainly would like to go to the Front.[9] Walter Wylie[10] told me that he had past the Doctor[11] and had really enlisted.

I am sure I am physically fit. It is my right eye that is bothering[12] me although I don't think they are very particular. I will have a medical examination[13] before I resign[14].

It won't be much difference to you. I am away from you now[15]. I shall be able to see you more often if I join in Saskatoon[16].

I hope you will write soon and tell me that I can go.

Your Loving Son

[7] The exact wording in the letter is "minnons" but has been changed to read the more likely word of "mittens".
[8] 'Aunt Nellie' is the mother of Alan Emery and Denis Emery, sister to Georgina Mercer and therefore the aunt of Richard Mercer. From the tone of the comment, this referenced letter and possibly other letters already received from Cpl. Alan Emery regarding the Great War is having an influence on Richard Mercer.
[9] It is interesting that Richard Mercer, the only child of William and Georgina Mercer, makes reference only to the "Front" and not the word "war". The brother of Georgina Mercer, Raymond Emery now living in Yorkton , Saskatchewan as a tailor, was a 25-year Colour Sargent in England and his military background also could have been an influence on Richard Mercer and his mother Georgina. The history of Raymond Emery still requires further research. It is not known if he is buried in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Canada or if he returned to England.
[10] Pte. Walter Wylie (911934) is one of the two best friends of Pte. Richard Mercer (911016). Walter has completed his first year of Medicine - in Saskatoon, Toronto or Winnipeg. Saskatoon is where the 196th Western Universities is raising "B" Company for the Battalion. Walter is most likely responsible for his two best friends, Tom Tracy (911023) and Richard Mercer joining the 196th Western Universities Battalion in Saskatoon. Both Walter and Richard are wounded (Richard twice) and Tom is killed at Passchendaele. His death in October 1917 by an exploding artillery shell is witnessed by Richard Mercer about one week before he himself is wounded by an artillery shell. Pte. Walter Wylie survives the war but is wounded late in 1918 during the major advances of the Last One Hundred Days.
[11] This is probably Dr. Eakins from Theodore and formerly from Ontario. Later in 1919, Dr. Eakins sells one of his buildings to the returned veteran Pte. Richard Mercer and it is then used as the Theodore Post Office from 1919 until 1964. The building was still standing in Theodore as of March 2003.
[12] No further description about the eye problems is noted in correspondence. The medical examinations during enlistment and demobilization record both eyes as being fine at "6/6" as was the standard of measurement of the day. Richard wore reading glasses in his later years.
[13] Dr. J J. Zawryly examined Richard Mercer on 28 April 1916 in Wawota, Saskatchewan, so it would appear the enlistment process was well advanced when he wrote his parents in Theodore, Saskatchewan, Canada on 27 April 1916. In another letter he makes reference to the "Wawota boys" and from this we can infer he may enlist with this group of young men. More research is required regarding the young men of Wawota, Saskatchewan.
[14] Richard Mercer had already enlisted at Wawota on 20 April 1916 and was Taken On Strength on 29 April 1916 by Lieut. J.P. Oliver, "B" Coy. 196th Overseas Battalion, C.E.F. It is not clear when he resigned from the Union Bank, however, the eagerness to enlist certainly condensed the timeline and really left his parents with few options to block the decision of their only child to go to war. It is also interesting to note the "Apparent Age" on the Attestation Papers states 19 years and 9 months when in fact, Richard Mercer was only 18 years and 9 months. Nevertheless, he is over 18 years of age and capable of enlisting without his parents approval.
[15] Richard Mercer, now living in Wawota, would have had a difficult set of train connections to get home to Theodore. He would have to either take the train first to Regina, then either north to link with the CPR at Lanigan and then to Theodore, or alternately travel to Regina and then northeast to first Melville and then to Yorkton and Theodore. In any event, the time and effort to return home would be difficult.
[16] The University of Saskatchewan had committed to provide "B" Company for the 196th Western Universities Battalion. This Battalion was disbanded in England on 31 December 1916 with the majority of volunteers absorbed into the 19th Reserve Battalion in England. From this Battalion the volunteers were then absorbed by a smaller number of active combat battalions. The men from the 196th Battalion tended to be more highly educated and generally were directed into positions involving high technology including the emergence of the Vickers Machine gun, automobiles and state-of-the-art wireless communications.