Malcolm Mercer (1855 - 1916)

Malcolm Smith Mercer

Canadian Major-General Malcolm Mercer is the highest ranked soldier to be buried in the military cemetery Lijssenthoek in Poperinge. His body was not found until 16 June 1916. He was probably hit by grenade shrapnel during a Canadian counter attack in the night of 2 to 3 June 1916. On 1 June 1916 the 3rd Canadian Division of Mercer manned the first line between Hill 62 and Mount Sorrel. In the early morning of 2 June 1916 he personally inspected his sector. Heavy fire suddenly started. Mercer was wounded by a grenade and was transported to the rear, while his staff officer went looking for help. German troops attacked at that precise moment …

Malcolm Smith Mercer was born on a farm near Toronto, Ontario (Canada). In 1912 he became the commander of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada. Mobilised as a lieutenant-colonel, he worked at his solicitor's office until the afternoon before his departure. During the training of his unit in the UK he became Brigadier General in the 1st Brigade of the Canadian Expedition Army. Mercer was in Vlamertinge when the first German gas attack signalled the start of the Second Battle of Ypres on 22 April 1915. He personally bawled out the French troops because they did not deliver their promised support . In January 1916 he was promoted to Major-General of the 3rd Canadian Division (10 000 to 15 000 men).