Percy Toplis
(1896-1920)

Died aged 24

Francis Percy Toplis (20 August 1896 – 6 June 1920) was a British criminal and imposter active during and after the First World War. Before the war he was imprisoned for attempted rape. During the war he served as a private in the Royal Army Medical Corps, but regularly posed as an officer while on leave, wearing a monocle. After the war he became notorious following the murder of a taxi driver and the wounding of a police officer who attempted to apprehend him. The subsequent manhunt was major news at the time. He was tracked down and was killed in a gunfight with police. In 1978 a book was published which claimed that he took a major part in the Étaples Mutiny from 9–12 September 1917, as "The Monocled Mutineer", during the war. The authors suggested that he was subsequently pursued by the political establishment in a vendetta, and may have been innocent of the murder. The book was dramatised by the BBC in 1986 as The Monocled Mutineer, creating considerable controversy. Critics say that there is no evidence he was actually present, and official records show that Toplis' regiment was en route to India during the Étaples mutiny. No evidence exists to show that Toplis was absent from his regiment. However, neither is there evidence that Toplis ever went to India. He may only have got as far as Malta. It is now believed highly unlikely that he returned to Europe in time to participate in the mutiny.

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Commemorated on 1 plaque

Percy Toplis known as the Monocled Mutineer, shot and killed here whilst on the run for murder 6th June 1920

Romanway Farm, Plumpton, Penrith, United Kingdom where they was killed (1920)