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Date: December 10th 1918
Georgina Mercer (Emery's Aunt)
Corporal Alan Emery

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


Dear Aunt Georgie,

Have received your letter of good wishes dated 1st November. Am not quite certain, but think that I owe you a letter. Would have answered your letter above earlier, only I thought that when I did reply I would like to let you know that the parcel you referred to had reached me safely. It came last night - in perfect condition. I appreciate your kindness very much, and shall enjoy all you have sent, because some of things are unobtainable here. The two photos in the parcel are also very good. I would very much like to see you all, and it shouldn't be far hence now seeing that this beastly war is over as far as fighting is concerned. You must be very thankful, I know they are at home. Rich has recently been over to England on leave[263], and he went and saw Mother & Father, and from what he told them they discovered that I was only about 12 kilometres away[264] from him for about a couple months. I was not aware of it though, had I been possessed of a knowledge of his whereabouts, I would have hunted him out for sure. I met a Corpl. a little while ago, who said he knew him very well, in fact he was one of a party of fellows who always knocked about together, but Rich was not with them then. Am very glad to think that he has been spared, because I believe he has had a pretty rough time of it[265]. Denis you know came out to France in September this year, and was just in time to see some very hard fighting to the last - he was gassed very slightly, and then five days before the armistice was signed was marked "Base" with Trench Fever, of which complaint has fairly knocked him out.

I managed to get permission to go and see him in hospital, he was up at the time but walking with a stick, very weak about the legs, since then he has been sent down to an convalescent home near the borders of Italy, the climate down there being very warm, and favourable for invalids. Anyway I (and they at home) are very grateful that he has been spared so far. Perhaps you would like his address:- 2/Lieut. D. H. Emery, Essex Regt., No.8 [Michelham] Home for Convalescent British Officers[266], c/o A.P.O. Sy., B.E.F. France. Thanks very much for Rich's address, I am writing him for Xmas. I believe he is a long way from me now - dispatch riding[267] I think.

Hope yourself and Uncle Will have managed to miss the "Flue"[268] - it has been bad everywhere I think. Must now close with best love and thoughts of you both - and the usual good old Xmas Greetings. Hoping to see you all soon. Please don't forget to remember me kindly to Uncle Raymond, and give him my best wishes.

Your affectionate Nephew

[263] Private Richard W. Mercer, 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade is granted leave "In the Field" from October 26, 1918 until November 8th 1918. This is his second 14 day "Leave to England" since April 1917 and occurs during the final two weeks of the Great War.
[264] Further research is required on this military unit.
[265] From this important comment by his military experienced cousin, we can assume Pte. Mercer was now being strongly affected by his extended combat experiences at the Front. The continued heavy fighting in the Fall of 1918, as the Allies continued using the Canadians and Australians as the "Shock Troops" to drive the Germans back and win the Great War in 1918, must have been a factor in Alan Emery noting his younger cousin's mental and physical state. Every soldier has a limit of endurance and after 18 months of combat, two woundings and loss of many comrades, Pte. Mercer may now have been reaching his mental and physical limit.
[266] The British military system maintained a rigid class structure - even for its wounded.
[267] Pte. Mercer was a dispatch rider on a 750cc Clyno motorcycle when with the 2nd Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade doing duty with the Allied occupation forces in the area around Bonn, Germany.
[268] 'Flue' is reference to the great influenza epidemic that killed millions of people world wide.