Corporal David Mercer


David Mercer was born on 27 November 1879 at 41 North Boundary Street, Belfast, the third or fourth child of house painter Samuel Mercer and his wife Fanny (nee Magee). Like his father, David worked as a painter.

On 20 February 1900 Mercer enlisted at Belfast in the Imperial Yeomanry (No.11140). He was posted to the 60th (North Irish Horse (Belfast)) Company, and embarked for South Africa on 14 April. He returned home a year later and was discharged on 10 June 1901, his character recorded as 'good'.

Mercer then returned to work as a painter. By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at North Boundary Street with his widowed mother and three siblings.

On 17 August 1914 Mercer enlisted in the North Irish Horse (No.1007 – later Corps of Hussars No.71196), claiming on the enlistment form that he was an engineer. His physical description on the form noted that he has a tattoo of a shield, IY, Ulster, on his right forearm. On 2 June 1915 he embarked for France with a draft of reinforcements. There he was posted to C Squadron.

In May and June 1916 C Squadron combined with F Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, and A, D and E Squadrons combined to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, each serving as corps cavalry units.

Mercer, following a short period in hospital with scabies, was evacuated to the UK on 8 December 1916. He returned to France on 14 June the following year, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment.

On 20 January 1918 Mercer was attached (with the rank of acting corporal) to No.117 Prisoner of War Company of the Labour Corps. He was formally transferred to the Labour Corps and promoted to corporal on 15 July 1918 (No.570491), remaining with No.117 Company through that year.

Mercer returned to the UK on 19 January 1919. He was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve, four weeks later. His character was recorded as 'very good'.

After the war Mercer returned to North Boundary Street, Belfast, and resumed his trade as a painter. On 4 February 1920 he married Margaret McCullough in the Belfast Registrar's Office.