Robert Joseph TOTTEN

Year of Birth:  1896

Place of Birth:  Springs, via Mareeba, Queensland

Date of Enlistment:  4 January 1916

Date and Place of Embarkation:  8 August 1916, Brisbane Queensland

Ship:  H.M.A.T. A50 Itonus

Rank:  Private

Unit(s):  15th Battalion A.I.F.

Regimental Number:  6101

Died:  11 April 1917

 

Robert Joseph Totten – photo courtesy of Discovering Anzacs

 

Robert Joseph Totten was born 1 September 1893 near Mareeba, Queensland to Thomas Totten and Priscilla Smith. Thomas was born in Ireland. Their first child was James Thomas was born in Australia in 1893 followed by Robert then Priscilla Alice in 1898, Frances Mary and lastly Ernest Henry in 1902.  The family remained in the north except for Frances who moved to Sydney after her marriage.

Robert attended Biboohra School. Biboohra if just north of Mareeba along the Mulligan Highway.  The school is still open today (2017).

Robert was 19 years and 4 months when he enlisted on 4 January 1916.  It was recorded he was 5 feet 7inches, 127 pounds with a fair complexion, blue eyes and dark brown hair.  Robert was working as a labourer and gave his father as his next of kin.

During January the new volunteers, including Robert, were entertained and farewelled at a number of social evenings in Mareeba.  They were each presented with a shaving set.

Robert and three other soldiers while on leave took part in an Anzac day service in 1916 at Mareeba.  They saw the flag unfurled on a new flag staff made of two cyprus pine poles embedded in a concrete base with the words “Anzac Day 1916” inscribed on it.

He left Brisbane with his unit in August 1916 on the troopship “Itonus” and disembarked at Plymouth in October.  In early December he was on the S.S. “Arundle” for France. Within a couple of weeks he was admitted to hospital for a month with the mumps.

 

Troop Ship Itonus – photo courtesy Flotilla Australia

 

On April 11 Robert Joseph Totten suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen, back and right arm and died that day at the 3rd Australian Clearing Station, France and was buried in the Bapaume Australian Cemetery, Bapaume, Pas de Calais, France; Plot 1 Row B Grave 21.

This small cemetery was created by the 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Station in March 1917 with 87 identified casualties. Within this cemetery are also a number of German graves.

During 1920 photographs of grave were sent to family.

 

Bapaume Australian Cemetery, Bapaume, Pas de Calais, France

 

Ancestry.com Family Tree – George Henry Adams (no source)

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NAA: B2455

 

Commonwealth War Grave Commission – Headstone Schedule

Robert’s headstone inscription reads:

NOTHING IN MY HAND I BRING

SIMPLY TO THE CROSS I CLING

.

Trove – Memoriam notice – Cairns Post 11 April 1918, page 4

 

Online Resources

Queensland Registry of Birth, Deaths, Marriages

Discovering Anzacs

Trove Digitised Newspapers

NAA: B2455, Totten, Robert Joseph

Remembering the Fallen (Bapaume Australian Cemetery)

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

 

If you have a photograph or further information about this soldier you would like to share and add to his biography, please add a comment or contact the Society: projects@cdfhs.org

 

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