Date of birth: 1894
Date of death: 14.12.1916
Regiment: Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders
Family information: Son of Thomas William and Alice (nee Walker) Mercer
Service number: S/40263
George enlisted at Leeds as Private S/40263 in the 1st Battalion Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders. His parents address was given as 4 North Terrace, Kirkhamgate.
The 1st Battalion landed at Le Havre, France on 14th August 1914 and were quickly involved with various actions on the Western front including the Battles of Mons, Ypres and Loos. It fought in the Somme throughout 1916 and sadly George was killed in action aged 22 on 14th December 1916.
He was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial. He is also commemorated on the Wrenthorpe Colliery War Memorial in St John’s Churchyard.
On the 6th January 1917 the Wakefield Express reported his death:
“Mr Thomas Mercer, North Terrace Kirkhamgate has received official intimation that his son, Private George Mercer, of the Cameron Highlanders, was killed in action on December 14th. He was 22 years of age and single and prior to enlistment he worked at Gawthorpe Colliery.”
George was born to Thomas William, a railway shunter and Alice nee Walker in Kirkhamgate. In 1901 he was living at Graham’s New Row, Kirkhamgate next door but one from Joseph Jowett who also lost his life during the war.
In 1896 he was baptised at St Anne’s Wrenthorpe, giving date of birth as 18th September 1893, together with his brother William who was said to have been born on 20th May 1894 – only 8 months after George’s date of birth. In the following two censuses, however, William is said to be older than George! Looking at registration records I think they may have got birth years for them mixed up at their baptism – William was registered in 1893 and George in 1894.
In 1911 George lived with his parents and four siblings at Ramsden’s Buildings, Kirkhamgate, where they occupied three rooms. According to the census, two further siblings had already died, but those living were William, Annie born in 1897, Thomas William born in 1900 and Edith born in 1906. Eighteen-year-old William was working as a hurrier in the pit while George at 16 was working at the pit as a pony driver.