The Etaples Mutiny

One of the things I enjoy most about George Simmers’ insightful blog Great War Fiction is the way it leads me to other subjects — for instance, his latest post, about a play being produced in Manchester, England, brought up the story of “The Monocled Mutineer.” A book, then a BBC series, it told a highly dramatized story of petty criminal/imposter Percy Toplis and his role in the Etaples Mutiny.

I hadn’t known there was an Etaples Mutiny, though it was mentioned in Vera Brittain’s “Testament of Youth.” (It was one of many incidents she described so obliquely, it’s difficult to know what she’s actually talking about.)

Anyway, Etaples was a training camp on the French coast notorious for its terrible conditions. Wilfred Owen wrote that the faces of the men there had “a blindfold look and without expression, like a dead rabbit’s.”

Here’s George on “The Monocled Mutineer”: http://greatwarfiction.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/2670/

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