Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
1st east yorks

Percy Topliss

Recommended Posts

1st east yorks

Hello,

In the 1980s there was a drama about a Private Percy Topliss who was played by one of the Mcgann brothers.I got the impression at the time that this was a true story,it was about a private(i think) in ww1 who pretended to be an officer.Percy was executed at the end of the story, but i cant find mention of him regarding the'shot at dawn' book.Is this a true story? If so was his name changed for the drama(to save embarrassment to the family)? Or was it fiction?

Thanks,

Anthony.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Coldstreamer

at the risk of getting told off (SAD isnt a subject thats discussed here) - there is no Topliss in the book "shot at dawn

in fact, I wasnt here and never typed this ....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tony Lund

He was said to have been shot by police in 1920. The book is called the Monocled Mutineer and has been called imaginative by some members of this Forum.

It should be available to order through the local library.

Tony.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Chris_Baker

Plenty of previous discussion on the Forum. Try the Search facility.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Moonraker

Anthony

This is a popular recurring theme in the Forum - entering "Toplis" in the search box top right will lead you to several threads devoted to the man romanticised in the TV series, eg this one.

Moonraker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1st east yorks

Tony, thats right, thats what the drama was called'The monocled mutineer'now that you mention it,thanks for your reply.Coldstreamer thanks for your reply,i understand talking about SAD could cause political debate and arguements,however it was a part of the war whatever our stand points are.In respect to the forum i will not mention it again,thanks for letting me know.

Thanks again,

Anthony.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1st east yorks

Thanks Chris,Moonraker,

I will look them up.

Anthony.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Terry_Reeves

Paul McGann played Toplis in the 1986 dramatisation, which was also released on video. It was a good piece of entertainment, but Alan Bleasdale, who adapted the original book for TV, presents Toplis as some sort of working class hero (or perhaps anti-hero) who has never been given a fair chance in life. In fact Toplis was a petty criminal who was wanted on suspicion of murdering a taxi driver and also for shooting and wounding a policeman. See this link:

http://www.eden.gov.uk/main.asp?page=3488

Out of interest, the police chief's son, who was a member of the party that ran Toplis to ground, was interviewed by Southern TV in the mid-1970's about the incident. The actual details of Toplis's final moments have never been made clear, although police chief's son was suspected of finishing him off. This was put directly to him on the programme. He refused to answer.

TR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
auchonvillerssomme

The only problem I have is the use of the acronym instead of the term executed.

Mick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1st east yorks

Terry,

I got the impression from the drama that he was a chancer and a bit of a loveable rogue,i was obviously wrong, he sounds much much worse than that.Thanks for your reply i will look up the link you provided.

Anthony.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest rotblotmutineer
Hello,

In the 1980s there was a drama about a Private Percy Topliss who was played by one of the Mcgann brothers.I got the impression at the time that this was a true story,it was about a private(i think) in ww1 who pretended to be an officer.Percy was executed at the end of the story, but i cant find mention of him regarding the'shot at dawn' book.Is this a true story? If so was his name changed for the drama(to save embarrassment to the family)? Or was it fiction?

Thanks,

Anthony.

Hello,

Yes, 'The Monoculed Mutineer' was screened on BBC in 1986; I think the screenplay was written by Alan Bleasedale. Percy Topliss or Toplis (born 1896 in Derbyshire Francis Percy Toplis)was played by Paul Mcgann.

When televised there was a great deal of controversy surrounding the idea that the BBC were spreading a story glorifying the socialist working class heroism of Percy Toplis. This surrounded their inclusion of Percy as one of the protagonists of the Etaples mutiny of September 1917. There is no such evidence to support that Percy Topliss was there, but it was not impossible; records indicate he was in or on his way to India. However he was awol quite a bit so....

The rest of the story is pretty much true as far as the supporting books written on the subject. The monocule is in Penrith museum! There is plenty of literature on the internet.

In the subsequent debate surrounding whether or not percy was at Etaples, it has been forgotten that the televised screenplay showed percy spending the night before execution with a deserter, and the subsequent execution. whether Percy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PBI

I recall The Toplis MIC States That He was Killed by The Police in the Execution of Their Duty.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest rotblotmutineer

Hello,

Yes, 'The Monoculed Mutineer' was screened on BBC in 1986;I think the screenplay was written by Alan Bleasedale. Percy Topliss or Toplis (born 1896 in Derbyshire Francis Percy Toplis)was played by Paul Mcgann. I think the correct spelling is double s.

When televised there was a great deal of controversy surrounding the idea that the BBC were spreading a story glorifying the socialist working class heroism of Percy Toplis. This surrounded their inclusion of Percy as one of the protagonists of the Etaples mutiny of September 1917. There is no such evidence to support that Percy Topliss was even there, but it was not impossible; records indicate he was in or on his way to India. However he was awol quite a bit so....

The rest of the story is pretty much true as far as the supporting evidence. The monocule is in Penrith museum! There is plenty of literature on the internet.

In the subsequent debate surrounding whether or not percy was at Etaples, it has been forgotten that the televised screenplay showed percy spending the night before execution with a deserter, and the subsequent execution. A harrowing and I thought excellent scene.

Whether Percy Toplis was at Etaples it seems that the programme certainly has contributed to the debate surrounding the executon of deserters.

Percy Toplis was shot in the Lake District while 'on the run' on suspicion of Murder in April 1920. At his inquest a verdict of justifiable homicide was returned. There is a great deal of debate as to who fired the fatal shot and the circumstances surrounding his death. it is not known why he was shot on sight or who exactly fired the shot. We may never know. I understand the secret services had a file on him. I may visit kew records office when everything is released to try and find out more.

hope that is helpful for you?

Andy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PBI

We will have a Long wait to see the Secret Service File on Toplis, i was told that it has been Destroyed many Years Ago.The Excellent Book by William Allison and John Fairley Called "The Monocled Mutineer" is a Detailed examaination of Toplis the Man and Myth,also there are some Excellent Interviews with British and Commonwealth Soldiers who took an Active part in the Mutiny at Etaples.Amazon now has the DVD of the 2 Part Series.In 1978 the British Govt actually admitted that there HAD been a Mutiny at Etaples,and an admission or confession,that the Records had most probably been Destroyed.Dr.John Gilbert the Then Minister of State confirmed this Fact.De Courcy Parry Jnr,who was suspected of Killing Toplis was cross examined on TV in 1978,about the last Minutes of Toplis,and He said that in the Ensuing Gun Battle that Toplis had Ended up Shooting Himself !!!!..this being contrary to the Evidence and Signed Statements that this Chief Constables Son had previously given under Oath in the 1920 Inquest when a Verdict of Justifiable Homicide was returned.Harry Fallows,the REAL Murderer of The Taxi Driver also Died in Suspicious Circumstances Himself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gunner Bailey

I think the sub title of this thread sums it all up very well!

Gunner Bailey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PBI

Plenty of True Facts about Toplis if you discount the Tall Stories about him,also plenty of Facts regarding the Etaples Mutiny.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jay dubaya

Got the book last year for 10p, well worth a read,

cheers, Jon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Fullrotation

Hi all. this is my first one for this group.

During the 80's i was working as a nurse with an Organisation Looking after Ex Servicemen and Women with sight problems in Sussex. One of our reidents (LW) was there at Etaples at this time and yes Percy was there, we was told he was a bit of a rogue, LW was very close to Percy (next bunk) and was treated as a younger brother by percy who would look after him. One event in france was when percy told LW to stay in his billet as he was going out to shoot someone, the following morning it was found out that a MP had been shot, LW knew who had done that.

At some point the Regiment was sent to Ireland, they was not there long when a local Femail was shot and killed. They was then sent back to France PDQ.

After the war when percy was on the run he would stay at times with LW , at this time Percy was robbing from Farms and Post Offices.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest OTT

Just to update.

The DVD has been released again. Forgotten how long it is & how good. Very Left Wing adaptation by Bleasdale. But it chronicles the time of early socialism, and even though it paints something of a working class hero robin hood type character of Topliss, it has perpetuated his myth.

Would his name still be known today?

Even his local council remembers him.

http://www.eden.gov.uk/main.asp?page=3488

And too all who have seen the DVD or remember it....I have one thing to say.......

"Get out of my car"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PBI

I Have Been Saying that to Certain Forum Members fer Years !!!!!!... :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Brigantian

I posted this newspaper court report on a previous Percy Topliss thread, but it may nevertheless be of interest.

It appeared in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph of Monday 2nd December 1918:

WANTED AT MANSFIELD

Percy Francis Toplis alias Williams (30) was charged at the Nottingham Shire Hall on Saturday with obtaining a gold bracelet watch by fraud at Hucknall.

It was stated that the prisoner called at Mr Tweed’s jewellers shop in High Street dressed as an officer of the ASC, selected a watch value £8 17s 6d and made out a cheque for £9, observing that the extra half-crown was the hall mark of a gentleman. The cheque was returned “No account” and the book from which it had been taken belonged to a London officer.

The Deputy Chief Constable said prisoner was a Derbyshire miner and had deserted from the RAMC at Salonika in June. In addition to this charge he was wanted on a charge of obtaining £10 by false pretences at Mansfield Woodhouse in September.

Prisoner, who said he was an absentee and not a deserter, was sent to gaol for six months.

Regards

Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PBI

GET OUT OF MY CAR!!!!....Plenty of Em on the Forum.See My Profile.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Moonraker

Searching Google Images produces some:

click here

Not quite the handsome fellow in the TV drama.

Moonraker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...