Monday, May 31, 2010

Major-General Malcolm Smith Mercer

Photo from Veteran Affairs Canada, The Canadian Virtual War Memorial.

Major-General Malcolm Smith Mercer (17/9/1859-3/6/1916) was the highest ranking Canadian born officer to die in combat in either the First or Second World Wars. Compared to those generals who survived, and were able to write memoirs, very little has been written on Mercer. Two articles I came upon  were:

“Malcolm Mercer“, from Wikipedia (not entirely sure who contributed to this article)
Gordon MacKinnon, “Major-General Malcolm Smith Mercer: The Highest Ranking Canadian Officer Killed in the Great War by Friendly Fire”, Canadian Military Journal, Spring 2007.

Mercer was born just outside of Toronto in 1859 in what then was Upper Canada. He attended the University of Toronto in 1881 and was called to the bar in 1885.(a) While at university he enrolled in the Queen’s Own Rifles as a private, and by 1911 he became Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant of the regiment.(b) In 1913 Mercer was aide-de-camp to Defense Minister Sir Sam Hughes during a military tour of Europe where he inspected the German Army first hand.(c) In 1914 Mercer, probably because of his close association with Sir Sam Hughes , was one of those who was called upon to help in the establishment of the Canadian Expeditionary Force that was being organized for overseas. Within days he was promoted Brigadier-General in command of the First Brigade, and in January 1916 he was made a Major-General in command of the 3rd. Division. He was killed in action at Mount Sorrel June 3, 1916.(d)

Canadian Expeditionary Force, Attestation Papers.

Malcolm Smith Mercer’s ancestry looks like this:

        Malcolm Smith  Mercer (17Sept.1859 York, Upper Canada-3June1916 Mt. Sorel, France)              

Father  Thomas Mercer (1812 Etobicoke, Upper Canada- ?)
Mother  Mary Smith (1815 Upper Canada- ?)

Grandfather  Samuel Mercer (1780 Londonderry, Pennsylvania- 30June 1830 Etobicoke, Upper Canada)
Grandmother Nancy or Ann Anderson (Sept. 1792 York, Upper Canada-28 October 1882 York, Ontario)

Great Grandfather Thomas Mercer (1744 Of Hillsboro, Belfast, Ireland-1829 York, Upper Canada)
Great Grandmother Sussana Jordan (1754 Lincolnshire, England- 3June 1815 York Upper Canada)

Sources: Canada Census, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1911.
               Family Search
              “York, Upper Canada Minutes of Town Meetings and Lists of Inhabitants 1797-1823 ed. Christine Mosser 1984”. Lists Samuel Mercer as an inhabitant of York in 1800.

(a) Gordon MacKinnon, “Major-General Malcolm Smith Mercer: The Highest ranking Canadian Officer Killed in the Great War by Friendly Fire”, Canadian Military Journal, Spring 2007, p.75
(b) Gordon MacKinnon, p.76
(c) Malcolm Mercer, “Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”, p.2
(d) Gordon MacKinnon, p, 78-81: Wikipedia, p. 3

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