The Monocled Mutineer
The best-selling book behind the BBC Drama ‘The Monocled Mutineer’, starring Paul McGann as the ‘ringleader’ of the Étaples Mutiny, Percy Toplis, with a new introduction by John Fairley.
In 1917, British, New Zealand and Australian troops stationed at the Étaples Training Camp in northern France protested against the inhuman conditions. The mutineers commandeered the camp’s weapons and marched into Étaples, holding the town for three days, attacking military police and the commander of the training camp, General Thompson.
Several of the mutineers were executed, but Toplis remained at large for three years. The Army immediately covered up the Mutiny; thousands of the participants would die shortly afterwards in the Passchendaele offensive.
The survivors remained silent for over fifty years while all records of the Étaples Board of Enquiry were destroyed (the official files on the Mutiny are closed until 2017).
With original photographs and interviews with survivors of the Mutiny, as well as the friends and family of Percy Toplis, The Monocled Mutineer unveils the events of the Étaples Mutiny and the response of the government. Percy Toplis became one of Britain’s most wanted men and was, eventually, killed by a policeman in 1920.
Yet, as The Monocled Mutineer outlines, there are still a host of unanswered questions about Toplis and his role, if any, in the Mutiny.
John Fairley is a former Director of Programmes at Yorkshire TV and is now the Chairman of Highflyer Productions. William Allison worked extensively in Fleet Street and for BBC television news.
“A shameful, secret story which, for so long, the Establishment had tried to hide.”
“First revealed the secret of Étaples, and the incredible story of conman and killer Percy Toplis.”
“A colourful chapter in First World War history… the book’s new edition, now expanded to include Étaples stories which have only recently come to light.”
“Gripping… Covers the colourful career of Toplis… The authors worked hard to track down survivors of the mutiny.”
‘The Morning Star’
“First revealed the shameful secret of Étaples, and the incredible story of protagonist Percy Toplis.”
“This book has completely opened my eyes… It doesn’t really romanticise him [Percy Toplis], or the mutiny, but it does really give you a feel for the emotion and the people behind it, which I don’t think you get a lot when you watch war documentaries… I loved it, it was incredibly accessible to read, incredibly enjoyable to read, it’s not slow in any way. You really are fascinated by Percy Toplis.”
Laura Blumenthal, Booktube (The video is available to watch here)
“The authors have undertaken a huge amount of research with this book over many years, tracking down surviving soldiers who had experienced conditions at Étaples… It will be interesting to see what records will be released in 2017, but this is a fascinating book indeed.”
‘The Garden Window Blog’
This is the 2nd and updated edition of The Monocled Mutineer, which includes a new introduction and epilogue that expand on newly discovered information about the events of the mutiny and the government’s response to it… Historical accuracy is never easy to obtain, especially where records have been lost and where there is a limited number of sources to compare one against the other. In this case the main sources of information are the personal accounts from the veterans as they remembered them many years later. And the picture they paint is a most remarkable and shocking one of the brutal and inhuman conditions which were in operation at the camp… Maybe more information will be available in 2017 when the files are opened and a fuller picture of what happened will emerge.”
‘Books Please Blog’
“An important part of the history of the Great War.”
‘Cumberland & Westmorland Herald’
Available to buy now in PB and eBook format: