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Date: May 28th 1916
William & Georgina Mercer (Emery's Uncle & Aunt)
Corporal Alan Emery

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


Dear Auntie and Uncle[17],

I must really apologize to you for not having written before, in answer to your nice letter and good wishes of the 13th Feb. last. The time seems to pass so quickly that it does now dawn upon one until you really start thinking.

Am keeping very well myself. The weather of course is in our favour now[18]. It has been very ...

-missing page(s) from this letter-

... and it would come as a medicine to see them all again.

Expect you are very busy in Canada. She is doing a lot for us one way or another. No doubt Mother has told you of my most recent promotion, it is, from II Corporal to Corporal. Thought perhaps you might be interested.

Have not received a letter from Rich[19]. Possibly he has written me and the letter has got mis-laid enroute.

You must please excuse this newsless sort of letter, as we are bound down so by the censor[20] that it is hard to pick a conversation that wouldn't displease him. Am often thinking of you all and no doubt some day if all goes well we shall meet again. No doubt you would be glad to have a sight of old England again[21].

Must now close with best love and wishes to all, hoping you are all keeping well.

I am,
Your ever loving Nephew
87846[22] Alan (Emery)

[17] Auntie and Uncle are William and Georgina Mercer. Georgina is Corporal Alan Emery's mother's sister.
[18] The Allies were generally committed to offensive action whereas the Germans were defensive at this time. The improvement in the weather would again favour offensive action. The Battle of the Somme and its terrible loss of life would begin on 1 July 1916, whereas the French were already experiencing massive casualties at the ongoing Battle of Verdun.
[19] Pte. Richard Mercer would now be in his initial military training with the expanding Canadian Corps at Camp Hughes near Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. This major western Canadian camp, which is relatively unknown to historians, would train over 30,000 men in 1916. Later in Europe, Pte. Mercer will continue to associate with several comrades of the 196th Western Universities Battalion who trained with him at Camp Hughes and later become part of the 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade.
[20] Most letters written home by regular soldiers were generally devoid of factual information. The junior officers censored each letter and initialed the envelope prior to it being posted back to Canada. At the same time, these young soldiers did not wish to worry their families with the details of war and many events were just beyond words and comprehension for someone who was not there.
[21] Cpl. Alan Emery would have been about 10 years old when his aunt Georgina (nee Emery) and uncle William emigrated to Canada in the summer of 1906. Ten years would have passed. Richard William Mercer would have been of 8 years and would still remember his older cousin Alan Emery.
[22] It was a common practice for enlisted men (aka ORs or Other Ranks) to sign their letters and include their military registration number. More research is required from British archives regarding the military records of Cpl. Alan Emery.