Edward was the third son of Richard and Emma Merchant. He enlisted at Inverell in October 1916, having previously been rejected due to eyesight. That month he was one of thirty two men farewelled at the Inverell School of Arts Hall and presented with the Inverell medal and socks.
Edward joined the 46th Battalion, 7th Reinforcement, and left Australia on the SS Port Napier in November 1916. After arriving in England in January the following year, his Battalion underwent further training before being sent to France in June. Due to illness Edward was returned to England where, after treatment, he spent the rest of the War. After returning to Australia in 1919 he lived in Sydney.
During World War II Edward enlisted again. His name is recorded on the Graman Honor Roll.