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Date: February 20th 1918
William & Georgina Mercer
Richard Mercer

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

Feby 20/18

Dear Father & Mother:-

Just a few lines to let you know I am quite well[198]. Wrote you a couple of days ago after receiving two letters from you. Have had none since. I am writing this about forty feet below the ground[199] so am quite safe. Had a letter from Dona T[200] and also a parcel. It was certainly good too. You can tell her next time you see her although I am writing her as soon as I have time. I received a very nice parcel from Mrs. Fennie[201] the other day. You must tell her that I enjoyed it very much. I hav'nt seen Walter for about three months but heard from him the other day. We are having beautiful weather here now[202]. I suppose it is still very cold over there. Fritz[203] is fairly quiet these days so you mustn't worry about me because I am quite alright. Will drop you a line again in a day or two. Hoping you are both keeping well.

Your Loving Son
911016 R.W. Mercer

[198] The Borden Battery continues with tedious construction and digging of improved machine gun positions. This type of daily "fatigue" duty would be a little unusual for the Battery. Most regular battalions and later pioneer battalions did most of the general construction work whereas the Borden Battery spent its time in training and in a stage of preparedness. One of the most tedious jobs for members of the Battery would have been the hours spent hand-feeding thousands of bullet cartridges into the feeder belts. There is also reference in the war diary of inspections of these improvements by senior officers with a requirement to change and redo some of the work. Naturally, the men would be grumbling about this at the time.
[199] Pte. Richard Mercer is at Verdrel near Vimy Ridge. The reference to being "forty feet below ground" is likely an indirect reference to being in one of the major tunnel or dugout complexes built by the Canadian Corps prior to their attack up Vimy Ridge in April 1917.
[200] This would be Dona Tracy, the sister of the late Pte. Tom Tracy of Theodore and Pte. Mercer's best friend. The Tracy's operated a general store and the Post Office in Theodore prior to September 4, 1919 when the then war veteran Richard Mercer was appointed the Postmaster.
[201] At this time there is no record of who Mrs. Fennie is. We can assume she is from the Theodore district.
[202] The Borden Battery War Diary notes the weather as "Fine and Mild" on 14 February 1918 and "Fine and Cold" until February 19 when the notation is then "Fine" until 26 February 1918. There has been no rain or snow during this time to complicate life on the ground. The unit has been busy constructing improvements to machine gun emplacements at Vimy Ridge.
[203] Of the letters that survive, this is the only reference to the enemy. Unbeknownst to Pte. Mercer at this time, the Germans are well advanced in their preparations for a major assault in the Somme area of the Western Front known as the Ludendorff Offensive. The 56-man Borden Battery, of which Pte. Mercer is a member, will be virtually annihilated in very heavy action on 24 March 1918 while attempting to stall large German forces on a hill near Clery-sur-Somme.  Six days later, with partially trained recruits, they will be placed back into combat on 31 March 1918.