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Date: September 9th 1918
William & Georgina Mercer
Richard Mercer

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

France Sept 9/18[244]

Dear Father & Mother:-

Have not received a letter from you for a some time but expect they will all come together. I wrote you the other day while in the trenches. We are out again now for a little rest. I am feeling very well and hope to go on leave again in about a month or so. Have received no word from Walter since he was wounded[245] but presume he is alright. Hope he has made Blighty.  I couldn't catch a Blighty this last time in the line[246] although there were plenty flying around[247]. Oh say I might not have much money to go on leave with this time so don't be surprised if I draw on you while in London. I most likely won't but I thought I would tell you in case. Must close now.

With love
Your loving Son
911016 R.W. Mercer

[244] Pte. Richard Mercer’s reference to “the trenches” is a misnomer. The Number 2 Group, Canadian Independent Force, which included the 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade, has been involved in heavy fighting since 1 September 1918. On this day the Brigade is located at Maizieres, France. This is part of “The Last 100 Days” in which the Canadian Corps played a major offensive role in the ending of the Great War in 1918. The battles have changed from static trench warfare to open field attacks and mobile fronts. The highly mobile 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade, with full access to very rare wireless communication, becomes a very important element in applying unrestricted pressure on the German army as battles retreat eastward away from the trenches.
[245] Pte. Walter Wylie was wounded on 18 August 1918 with the 46th Battalion. He received multiple gunshot wounds to the buttocks and scalp. Pte. Wylie has since been discharged from the 7th General (Hospital) at Trouville and is at Reinforcement Depot at Etaples, France.
[246] Edited Narrative of Operations, Group No. 2, Canadian Independent Force, 2 Sept 1918:
“At 5:00 A.M. No. 2 Group concentrated on the NEUVILLE-VITASSE-WANCOURT Road, Units in the following order - 4 Light Armoured Cars, Canadian Corps Cyclist Battalion, "E" Battery, 1st C.M.M.G. Bde., 1 Battery Trench Mortars, C.D.A., "A", "B", and "C" Batteries, 1st C.M.M.G. Bde., Headquarters and M.T. Vehicles, 1st C.M.M.G. Bde., head of column at N.23.a.6.2. At 7:30 a.m. the column as above, moved up through WANCOURT and GUEHAPPE and halted with the head of the column at G.13b7.7 just off the CAMBRIA Road.. At 10:15 A.M. verbal orders were issued for No. 2 Group to take the lead. Before sending out my Officers Patrols I asked the O.C. leading Group for information re the situation forward. His armoured Cars had reported VILLERS occupied by the enemy. At 10:30 A.M. Officers Patrols were ordered to go forward and ascertain exact position of forward infantry. Officers Patrols reported that infantry was held up by machine gun fire which was coming from the direction of the cemetery at V.4.b.8.9. At 10:45 A.M. "E" Battery with two platoons, Cyclists was ordered to take up positions in P.33.b and d. astride the CAMBRIA Road in front of the 72nd Battalion, which was in trenches at P.33.a. Machine gun and artillery fire were met with at this point. This Battery, ably commanded by Captain Worthington, caught numbers of the enemy infantry in the open, the Battery also engaged some enemy gun limbers concealed behind trees and the horses were seen to stampede. At 11:00 A.M. 2 Light Armoured Cars were ordered to proceed down the road to reconnoitre and fire on any targets which presented themselves. They returned about 11:20 A.M. and reported having fired on groups of the enemy at V.3 central and z.35. central. They were unable to reach the cross roads as fallen trees blocked the road at about P.35b. A platoon of Cyclists was ordered forward to clear this obstruction. This was accomplished before noon. These Units advanced with great determination and before handing over had penetrated to a depth of 2000 yards into the enemy's territory. This persistent pushing forward of this Battery would have undoubtedly have some bearing on the enemy's decision to retire during the night to his defences on the Canal. At 11:25 A.M. one Section of Trench Mortars was ordered to advance to P.33.b and fire on P.34a., P.34.c and buildings at P.34.d. Fire was brought to bear as instructed with good results. Enemy infantry was dispersed and buildings in P.34.d were hit repeatedly. Heavy machine gun fire and some artillery fire were directed at the Trench Mortar lorries during this operation. At 11:35 A.M. two Heavy Armoured Cars were ordered to go forward to obtain information regarding the enemy's movements. Both these cars received direct hits when returning about 12:45 P.M. and were destroyed by fire. At 1:30 P.M. two Light Armoured Cars were ordered forward to reconnoitre, the two Heavy Cars having been destroyed. At approx. 3:00 P.M. two Tanks came up the right of the road. They were subjected to heavy artillery fire from the left flank and both received direct hits when in P.34.d and W.4b. and were put out of action. One of our Light Armoured Cars was also hit about this time and put out of action after having done good work on the track on right side of CAMBRAI Road at about P.34.c.3.5. twenty German dead were counted, all from our fire. Enemy aircraft very audacious with apparently small opposition from our aircraft. Twenty enemy machines came over twice and fired M.G. into our troops and dropped egg bombs. Very little artillery assistance seemed available at this period. At 3:15 P.M. "D" Battery reported whizz-bang Battery very active in P.29.b.4.3. They also reported that the enemy was massing presumably for counter attack in trenches on our left at approx. P.28.d. and Z.34.a. Three guns of the Left Half Battery were immediately withdrawn to positions south of the road at P.34.c.0.9. to P.34.c.2.8. This attack did not materialize. The Left Half of "E" Battery and all of "D" Battery were subjected to heavy machine gun and artillery fire during the afternoon but did very work in engaging enemy artillery and groups of enemy infantry and machine gunners. At 4:15 P.M. approx. a Trench Mortar Lorry received a direct hit from a shell while standing on the road at P.34.a. 0.0. After burning a short time it blew up and was completely destroyed. At 8:45 P.M. instructions received for all elements of the 2nd Group less 30th Battery, C.F.A. to withdraw to COJNUL VALLEY, 1st C.M.M.G. Bds. To be in support to the 1st Division. At 9:00 P.M. Orders issued to all Units to withdraw (see appendix 14) contact with the 8th Battalion, 1st Division was obtained by Lieut. Wilson, Cyclist Battalion at P.34.C.1.2 at 8:30 P.M. approx. Line was handed over to Lieut. Smellie of the 8th Battalion at 9:30 P.M. Unit were withdrawn in the following order, "D" Battery and Cyclists, "E" Battery and Cyclists, "A" Battery and Cyclists, and proceeded to COJEUL VALLEY as instructed the last unit arriving at approx. 2:30 A.M/, 34d inst. 1:45 A.M., 3rd inst. message re withdrawal of No. 2 Group and message re vehicles forwarded from WANCOURT. "
[247] About one-quarter of the Canadian Corps casualties occurred during the final "One Hundred Days" when the Corps served as "the point of the spear”. As an indirect indication of the ferocity of battle, there were 7 Victoria Crosses awarded to Canadians on 1-2 September 1918.