The Watch of Gratitude from Guillemont

cornwalls regimental museum, Arthur Knyvett Totton, Corporal B.C.Viner
“To Cpl. B. C. Viner, In Gratitude for binding up my wounds at Guillemont, 3.9.16 A K Totton 1st DCLI.”

One of the characters featured in The Trench is Arthur Knyvett Totton. Born in Surrey in 1892 he was working at the Natural History Museum in London when war broke out in 1914 and he chose to enlist.

Totton was enlisted as a Private with the 28th London Regiment (Artists Rifles) and on 26th October 1914 he arrived in France. He also served with the 18th London Regiment, where he also attended the Officer Training Corps. In April 1914 he was commissioned to 1st DCLI as 2nd Lieutenant and joined the Battalion in the May of that year. By the August of 1915 he had taken over command of “B” Company 1 DCLI.

Arthur received the Military Cross on 14th November 1916 while still a 2nd Lieutenant. The citation reads “For conspicuous gallantry in action, though wounded early in the day, he led on to the first objective, where he bombed the enemy dug-outs and was again hit by a bomb. He then went on to second objective, being wounded a third time on the way”   

The Military Cross was likely awarded due to his action at the ‘Battle of Guillemont’ which took place between the 3rd and 6th of September 1916. On the first day of the battle, we know he was wounded as he was attended by Corporal B.C.Viner, who was also serving with the 1st DCLI.

Arthur showed his thanks to Cpl Viner and presented him with a silver watch. The watch was purchased by the museum at Auction earlier in the year.  It is engraved as follows:

“To Cpl. B. C. Viner, In Gratitude for binding up my wounds at Guillemont, 3.9.16 A K Totton 1st DCLI.”

Despite his injuries Arthur continued to serve with the DCLI, working his way up through the ranks to Captain until he was invalided out of the army in 1918. He received the 1914-15 Star, the British medal and the Victory Medal for his services during the war.

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