Private Thomas Totton

 

Thomas Totton was from Belfast. (It has not been possible to determine his date of birth or family background, as a number of men of this name lived in Belfast at the time.)

Totton enlisted in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron between 9 and 12 April 1915 (No. UD/247). He embarked for France with his squadron on 6 October 1915. At the time they were serving as divisional cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division.

In June 1916 the Inniskilling squadron came together with C and F Squadrons of the North Irish Horse to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps. Totton was wounded the following month in the early days of the Battle of the Somme. The Regimental diary for 5 July 1916 stated:

Orders were received from A.P.M. 36th Division at 9 am for the two troops dismounted to report to Capt O'Neill at Lancashire Dump for salvage duty. They carried out this duty bringing in equipment, rifles etc till 1 pm. The men had dinner and were just turning out again when Lieut Seymour received orders from 36th Division to return to Regtl Head Quarters. The men had just started to saddle up when a heavy bombardment of both high explosive, shrapnel & machine guns was concentrated on the Wood. The intensity of the fire necessitated Lt Seymour giving orders for the men to take shelter in some old dugouts & trenches close by. The bombardment lasted for 3/4 of an hour & then slackened but did not entirely stop. Up to now one horse was killed & four wounded. The men were then ordered to saddle up & lead their horses thro' Wood out on to the road and were waiting for the others to join up when the bombardment opened much heavier than previously especially on that part of the road where the men were waiting. Lt Seymour moved off up the road leaving 2/Lt Matthews & Sergt McIlvoy to round up the stragglers in the wood, as by this time horses were very restive and almost unmanagable. Lt Seymour with his party had reached about 1 mile along the road & turned down a lane leaving the horses in charge of Sergt Quinn. Almost immediately a heavy fire was brought to bear on the horses and Sergt Quinn was wounded. The horses stampeded in every direction, some back to Aveluy Wood. Eventually Lt Seymour was able to round up most of this party & got to Senlis. Lieut Matthews & Sergt McIlroy remained behind. Our losses numbered 16 horses killed or wounded and 2 missing. 2/Lt Matthews was wounded severely in the knee from high explosive and Pte Downes, Nicholl, Gourley wounded (hosp) and Ptes Buchanan, 195 Campbell, Totton, 105 Craig, Cpl Dickson, 209 Robinson slightly wounded (duty).

Totton recovered from his wound and returned to his squadron.

In August 1917 orders came that the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment would be dismounted and the men transferred to the infantry. A number of them were found not fit for front-line service and transferred to other duties. Totton was one of these. On 10 October 1917 he was transferred to the 47th Labour Company, Labour Corps (No.380384). On 16 April the following year he was transferred to the 15th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment (No.63881).

Totton was transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve, on 24 February 1919.