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Date: June 14th 1917
William & Georgina Mercer
Richard Mercer

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

France June 14/17[93]

Dear Father & Mother

Thanks very much for your letter No.1 dated May 11th. I haven't numbered my letters since I came to France[94]. Am glad you received the photo. I certainly do look old Don't I? I have shaved off my moustache[95] some time ago.

I wrote you the day before yesterday and told you all about me being in the trenches[96]. We are out for a little rest at present. Tom & I are very well. Walter is over here but I haven't seen him yet. He is quite a distance from where we are but I am going over to see him soon. I haven't seen Leicester[97] yet. They were in the trenches when we were and they are not out yet. I am looking forward to see him again. The army must have certainly made a man of him.

Did I tell you that Denis is in the Army[98] now. He just came of age in Mch[99] I think.

Your Loving son
911016 Pte. R. W. Mercer[100]

[93] On 14 June Pte. Richard Mercer would have completed several days of revolver training. The Machine Gunners, including privates, were all issued revolvers instead of rifles. Earlier on 2 June Pte. Mercer would have been very active as all guns were in action for an extended period of time. Their positions were heavily shelled, so he would have perhaps experienced his first major artillery bombardment.
[94] Only one surviving letter from Pte. Mercer, dated April 28, 1917, has a numbered reference.
[95] Pte. Mercer had stated many years after the Great War that they were encouraged to grow moustaches as they were all so young looking. It would appear he would have started the moustache in England during advanced training. There is one small, unclear photograph which appears to show Pte. Mercer in all his military kit and sporting a thin moustache. In the background there is a white bell-tent.
[96] Pte. Mercer is currently at their main base of Camblain L'Abbeye where they were involved in revolver training on this particular day. The reference to being "in the trenches" is reference to the Battle of Messines-Wytschaete Ridge where a series of 19 large underground mine were blown as part of the attack. The explosion was felt in London, England as 1,000,000 pounds of high explosives were set off.
[97] Leicester is Corporal E.J. Leicester was with the Winnipeg Grenadiers at Vimy Ridge. Before enlisting he was an accountant with the Union Bank at Melfort, Saskatchewan and was likely a working friend and business associate of Pte. Mercer.
[98] 2/Lieut Denis H. Emery was with the Essex Regiment, however, additional research on this unit is required. Denis and Richard met and became friends during a common leave in Liverpool. Any letters exchanged between Pte. Mercer at the Front would have been destroyed as a matter of military security.
[99] This is the abbreviation used by Private Mercer for 'March'.
[100] This is the first letter where Pte. Mercer signs his name and adds his military service number.