David's family are thought to have originated from the Marple area but it has not been possible to identify them on the 1901 Census. In 1898, he married Annie Brown at St Chad's Church, Marple and they are thought to have set up home at 14 Hollins Terrace where they would have four children together. . He worked as a bricksetter.
Reporting his death at a Stockport hospital, the local newspaper indicated that he had served in the army for two years before being discharged. Previous research into the men commemorated on the Marple War Memorial for the book "Remembered" by P Clarke, A Cook and J Bintliff concluded that he had had returned to England suffering from an illness contracted whilst overseas on active service and that this led to his death.
However, since 1999 when the book was written, new sources of information have been released by the National Archives which do not tend to support this. Firstly, all soldiers who served abroad were entitled to medals for their service. Index cards detailing entitlement are now available online and it has not been possible to discover one for anyone called David Totterdell or anyone with a similar name and having the service number 51321. Secondly, soldiers who were discharged from the army on medical grounds were entitled to a pension. The service files of these pensioners are also available online and there are none for a David Totterdell.
David's grave at Marple is tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as an official War grave. There are two basic criteria for this. The first is that the man died whilst still a serving soldier (even if the cause of death was entirely natural). The second, applying to a man discharged, is that the cause of death was directly related to service. As it is reasonable to discount the second criteria (unless David served under an unknown assumed name, or the National Archives records are incomplete), then he must have been still serving when he died. Garrison battalions were formed, usually for home service duty, from older men and those not considered fit enough for duty in the front line. 3rd Garrison Battalion of the Fusiliers spent 1916 in North Wales before moving to Oswestry and there is no discovered official documentation to suggest that David's entire service was other than with this unit.