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Date: November 11th 1917
Henry Mercer (Richard's Uncle)
Richard Mercer

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

The Salvation Army[138]
14 General Hospital
Nov 11/17

Dear Uncle Henry:-

You will be surprised to know that I am in a hospital[139]. I was buried by a shell[140] on the 6th and received a little gash just over the right eye[141]. I can't make Blighty on it I am sorry to say. I suppose I am not lucky[142]. I don't know how long I will be here so can't give any address at present.

Hoping you are all well.

Your affectionate Nephew
911016 R.W. Mercer

[138] Pte. Richard Mercer always had a high regard for the work and actions of the Salvation Army (SA). He commented that the SA was up near the Front and endured the same hardships as the soldiers. What he liked the most about the SA was the fact they provided service to everyone irregardless of their religion, and unlike other religious groups, did not ask for any money.
[139] Pte. Mercer of the Borden Motor Machine Gun Battery is at 14th General Hospital at Wimereux, France initially for treatment of "concussion W". The concussion was the result of a direct hit from a German artillery shell. He was buried by the shell hit, a piece of shrapnel hits him in the left chest over his heart but is stopped by a silver cigarette case. More research is required on the location of the 14th General Hospital.
[140] On Tue., Nov 6, 1917 the Borden Battery War Diary recorded the Battery location as YORK CAMP (near Poperinge). It was dull with rain.
"At zero hour 6a.m. all Guns opened fire for 70 minutes on Targets allotted on MG Organization Order #12 ceasing at 7:10 a.m. We were subject to an intense Enemy bombardment during the firing of the barrage. All Guns were Stripped and cleaned and laid on S.O.S. Target at 10 a.m. Guns opened fire on S.O.S. Target in Accordance with message G.36 from Group Commander. Fire ceased at 11a.m. The Enemy got a direct hit on one Gun position burying one man, 3 OR's were evacuated slightly wounded. At 6:45 p.m. we answered an S.O.S. call firing for 45 minutes at 9:15 p.m. Orders were received from Group Commander to open harassing fire with two guns on V.30 B.30.00 to V.30.D.99.50 firing was continued until 6 a.m. 7th inst. (Appendix #2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).
[141] Pte. Mercer
"At Passchendaele I got knocked over by a shell blast and was buried under some mud but really thought nothing of it. Later I was down-dressed by an officer for having a tear in my left pocket. The sterling silver cigarette in my left pocket over my heart was punctured by some shrapnel. There were some coins and a small Bible that stopped the piece of shrapnel. My uncle gave me the case, he was a Colour Sergeant in the British militia. I guess it saved my life." Source: D. G. Mercer, Regina, SK, Canada. The silver cigarette case, including the piece of shrapnel, which punctured the outside exterior shell and dented the interior shell of the case, is a family heirloom and is being preserved by the Mercer family.
[142] This statement does not reflect that he has survived Passchendaele which claimed 250,000 Allied casualties, survived direct hit by an artillery shell with a piece of shrapnel imbedding itself into a sterling silver cigarette case over his heart, survived the poisonous gas, and witnessed the death of a very best friend or the fact he was able to walk out the 5 miles to a dressing station.