Lance Corporal Harry Victor Aitken Mercer

 

 

Harry Victor Aitken Mercer was born at High Street, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, third of four children of American-born jeweller Thomas Andrew Mercer and his wife Elizabeth Florence (nee Laird).

Prior to the war Mercer was employed as a clerk in the Ulster Bank, and by 1911 was working in the bank's Ballymena branch.

He had by then become a well-known and popular footballer. According to the website Northern Ireland's Footballing Greats, Mercer was:

... a versatile player, capable as a back or forward, Harry Mercer played in three consecutive title winning sides with Linfield. He made his debut as a 19 year-old outside-right in September 1906 and in his first campaign scored twelve times in 25 appearances to claim a first title as well as the Co. Antrim Shield. Mercer's good form continued through 1907/08, when he scored ten goals in 26 appearances, as Linfield retained the League and Co. Antrim Shield, adding the City Cup for good measure. In February 1908 he won his only cap, playing at centre-forward against England at Solitude. The 1908/09 season, in which he completed his hattrick of titles, proved to be Mercer's last with Linfield. It began with selection at right-half for the Irish League against the Football League in September. In November he played outside-right for the Irish Amateur team in a 5-1 defeat by England at Dalymount Park, thus becoming the first Linfield player to win Amateur international recognition. Mercer's top-class playing career was virtually ended when he was appointed as a Bank Manager in Londonderry, though he did make a brief Irish League return with Derry Celtic in 1910/11.

Mercer had also played hockey for Cliftonville.

On 30 December 1914 Mercer enlisted in the North Irish Horse (No.1366 – later Corps of Hussars No.71356).

In March and April 1915 he turned out for the North Irish Horse – in a football match against Summerfield, and in hockey against a Ballymena team. He also played for the Ballymena football team Galgorm - the Ballymena Weekly Telegraph of 5 November 1915, reporting on a match against Linfield Rangers, noted that "Trooper Christie Carter and Mercer were prominent players for the homesters."

Mercer embarked for France between 1916 and 1918, most probably with E Squadron in January 1916. While in France he was either wounded or fell ill. He was discharged as no longer physically fit for war service on 22 August 1918.

He died in Bangor on 6 January 1961.

 

 

The first image and some of the information above is sourced from the Northern Ireland's Footballing Greats website. Newspaper image from the Ballymena Weekly Telegraph of January 1915 kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (www.greatwarbelfastclippings.com).