Merv was brought up as one of 14 children. His father was a farmer, and for most of his life, Merv was a farmer. He volunteered to join the army during the second World War, and was sent to Singapore. When a decision was made that Singapore could not hold against the Japanese, the Allied Forces were ordered to surrender. It could not have been realised at the time just how barbaric the Japanese were to be in the treatment of their prisoners.
"I will never forget the utter despair of the young men of F Force, nor the way they died quietly and without fuss. Neither will I ever forget the cruelty of the Japs, nor will I ever forgive them for their total disregard for the lives of the P.O.W.s and the dark races who also worked on the railway."