The Curious Case of Victor Grayson & the Etaples Mutiny

In November 1916 former Colne Valley Socialist MP and would-be revolutionary Victor Grayson enlisted with the 1st Battalion Canterbury Infantry Regiment in New Zealand. On September 9th the following year he and his regiment arrived at Etaples Camp just as riots were taking place by New Zealand and Australian Troops. What part if any did Grayson play in the mutiny and what was Grayson and his Manchester associate Adela Pankhurst actually doing in New Zealand in the first place?

One of the most curious details to emerge from a fresh look at the Etaples Mutiny of September 1917 is that notorious Socialist firebrand Victor Grayson arrived at the camp on the very day the riots kicked off. Grayson, who famously disappeared for good in 1920, had enlisted with the 1st Battalion Canterbury Infantry Regiment during a prolonged stay in New Zealand in November 1916. After basic training at Bulford Camp in Wiltshire his unit marched into the Etaples Camp on Sunday September 9th. It gets a glancing mention in David Clark’s excellent biography, ‘Victor Grayson: The Man and the Mystery’ but it is never been examined in any significant detail. In fact for the most part, it’s been completely overlooked by historians on all sides of the political divide.

Whilst accounts differ as to the exact nature of the riots at Etaples and the politics and resentments from which they sprang, mutineer (and later Communist) James Cullen is adamant that a ‘small council of action’ led by Communist agitators within the troops assumed control of the mutiny as it entered its second phase. 1 What is all the more intriguing is that it was these new’ New Zealand units who led the initial assault when Arthur ‘Jock’ Healy and a dozen or so men of the New Zealand Field Artillery rushed the police cordon on the bridges preventing re-entry from the local town. The men were subsequently apprehended and beaten as ‘deserters’ by the over zealous training camp ‘Red Caps’. In an entry dated September 12th Field Marshall General Haig notes in his diary that “men with revolutionary ideas” from “new drafts” had carried “red flags and refused to obey orders.”

Victor Grayson Army Service Records
Deployment record from Victor Grayson’s army service records showing his arrival at Etaples camp on September 9th 1917, the first day of the four day mutiny

The incident set in motion a chain of disturbances at the camp that saw a “seething mass of infuriated Kiwis” break the ‘Canary’ cordons and rampage through the town. Over 400 military foot and mounted police arrived to restore order, and reinforcements were drafted in from the Honourable Artillery Company and the unflinching Machine Gun Corps. As the largest troop transit camp in Northern France the threat to discipline was immense. 100s of men within the New Zealand and Scottish units were charged with military offences, dozens of men were charged with mutiny, one man (Jesse Short) was executed and many others received sentences of up to 10 years in detention.

When viewed against the fast moving changes emerging in Russia as a result of the February Revolution, the disturbances at Etaples (and among Russian troops at La Courtine, led by Jean Baltais and Klavdia Vavilov) make for very interesting reading, and inevitably, certain questions arise. The first of these is likely to be obvious to anyone who has heard of Grayson, and one that almost certainly went through the heads of Military Intelligence in the immediate aftermath of the mutiny: did Victor Grayson — generally regarded as one of the best mob orators in Europe  — have any foreknowledge of the riots and if he didn’t, what part, if any, did he play in the disturbances?

Just a few weeks prior to the riots Private John King, a soldier in Grayson’s Canterbury Regiment, had been executed by the firing squad for desertion. Absenteeism was nothing new and was usually met with nothing more serious than a week confined to barracks, but frequent and sustained desertion was something else, and the response, more often than not, was swift and brutal. There was also a parallel saga taking shape at home. Just a few months prior to Grayson enlisting, several of his Socialist associates in New Zealand, including Yorkshire ex-pat Mark Briggs and Archibald Baxter, made the headlines for refusing their conscription orders into New Zealand’s Expeditionary Force. Bundled into their regiments regardless, the treatment of the men was harsh. Punishment was barbaric and carried out in full view of the troops.

Back in New Zealand, Briggs had been a senior figure within the Industrial Union of Workers at the Manawatu Flaxmill. Since 1911 the Union had become increasingly radical, supporting their affiliation with the ‘Red’ Federation of Labour – also known as the ‘Red Feds’. Adela Pankhurst, who campaigned aggressively on Grayson’s behalf in the Colne Valley by-election of 1907, paid a visit to Briggs and the Manawatu Flaxmill in July 1916. It was just a few months after this meeting that Briggs and his associates refused their mobilization orders. By March 1917 and irrespective of their objections, Briggs and his men were escorted to barracks by force. What part Pankhurst played in their decision to refuse conscription isn’t known, but it is curious to think that such a close associate of Grayson’s had been among them at this critical stage. It is also curious that Adela and her sister Sylvia Pankhurst had already come to the attention of Etaples Camp detective, Edwin T. Woodhall, who discusses his encounter with the women (and his encounter with Percy Toplis in the deserter camps around Etaples) in his 1929 book, Detective and Secret Service Days. His superior at Special Branch, Basil Thomson had also discovered that Adela and Sylvia Pankhurst had set up the People’s Russian Information Bureau on funds supplied by the Bolsheviks (Queer People, p.293).

It was a curious set of circumstances made all the more curious by later developments.

In July and August 1917 Adela’s mother, the celebrated Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, was part of a small delegation of Labour supporters dispatched to Russia to meet provisional leader, Alexander Kerensky. And in October 1917, just as attempts were being made to restore order, Briggs was taken from Bulford Camp in Wiltshire to the camp in Etaples and sentenced immediately to Field Punishment 1: the ‘crucifixion’.

Was Briggs part of a two-pronged Trojan plot to cause division within the ranks of the New Zealanders? Did this account for both Pankhurst and Grayson arriving in New Zealand within weeks of each other, just as they had arrived within months of each other in Australia in 1915? It’s unlikely but not impossible.

Speculation about this may have been overlooked as a result of Grayson’s fanatical pro-war behaviour, which was seemingly at odds with Pankhurst’s equally belligerent activity in the opposing Women’s Peace Movement. But whilst I am no expert on the quirks of revolutionary thinking during this period, Grayson’s position and intentions may not be as straightforward as many might think.

The Lesser of Two Evils

There’s been a tendency among some writers and historians to frame Grayson’s jingoistic pro-War stance inside a treacherous and mercenary shift to populism and Conservatism; this is despite the fact that several prominent revolutionary leaders in Russia also backed the war including Trudovik member Alexander Kerensky (who played a key role in Russia’s February Revolution), Irakli Tsereteli and Georgi Plekhanov, generally considered to be the founder of Russian Marxism and one-time Lenin supporter. To understand this, you have to remember that at the beginning of the war, Germany had set out to seize significant parts of the Russian Empire. The Septemberprogramm as it became known, had been prepared by the German chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg and it is clear that territorial expansion had been Germany’s primary motive for war (huge territories in Western Russia had already been taken, including including Congress-Poland, Lithuania and parts of Courland and western Volhynia). Revolutionaries like Kerensky and Plekhanov observed that successful revolution and change was less likely under Imperial Germany and they needed to push back their eastern advance. To safeguard their own revolutionary interests, a significant proportion of Menshevik (‘majority’) faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party backed a military response to the ‘Prussianism’ of the Junker — Germany’s ruling military class. The remaining Bolshevik (‘minority’) faction withheld their support for the war on the basis that it was rooted in Imperialist Capitalism. The long and short of it? Opinion on the issue of war among Socialist and Labour supporters was as divided in Russia as it was in Britain.

The message to me at least seems simple: there is absolutely no reason to assume that Grayson’s pro-war beligerence is an indication he was losing interest in Revolution, quite the opposite; the pugnacious Social Chauvinism observed by Grayson and British Socialist, Henry Hyndman is likely to have been based on the preservation of a Revolutionary ideal, and not the rejection of one.

Revolutionaries like Plekhanov believed that German victory could be disastrous for the world’s proletariat. Siding with the bourgeoisie on the issue of defence was simply the lesser of two evils. Grayson might have had another reason for backing conscription; in Russia conscription and desertion among the country’s ‘peasant army’ had undermined the country’s war effort on several fronts, making the conditions ideal for revolution. There were food shortages in the towns due to the diminished labour force in the countryside (skilled and non-skilled men were in the army), and military transport and provisions congested the railway networks. These factors led to a rise in food prices which meant growing hardship for the workers and therefore strikes. It may come as no surprise to learn that in the autumn of 1916 Grayson was  reassuring his Socialist comrades in New Zealand that conscription, whilst unfavourable, would at least train men in the use of munitions and prepare them for the revolution that would almost certainly follow the war:

The men who have reaped the experiences of the trenches would come back trained to use guns and bayonets, and to act unitedly, and they would never again be satisfied with the old life of unemployment and want and hardship. They would make demands upon their governments … and knowing the value of organization they would be in a position to enforce their demands — Victor Grayson speaking to the Wellington Social Democratic Party, Maoriland Worker, Volume 7, Issue 293, 27 September 1916

Grayson makes one thing abundantly clear: as far as the present war was concerned he was patriotic, but like his comrades Plekhanov and Tsereteli in Russia he felt the workers movement would have more opportunity to flourish under the allies than under ‘Prusso-German’ rule.

In the words of one Tracy Chapman, Vic was still talkin’ ’bout a revolution. As he told the Wellington Social Democratic Party just one week previously: the workers had “the means and remedy in their own hands – organisation”. Whatever they did they must “organise, organise, organise.” (Labour and the War, Evening Post, Volume XCII, Issue 70, 20 September 1916)

Several years before, in October 1909 Grayson had addressed 8,000 social democrats who had gathered in Trafalgar Square and made a “violent speech” denouncing the execution of Catalan anarchist, Francesc Ferrer. According to the press, Grayson “advocated a life for a life” before declaring that even if “the heads of every King in Europe were torn from their trunks tomorrow it would not pay half the price of Ferrer’s life”. (Star, Issue 9676, 19 October 1909). Attending that same demonstration was Naomi Ploschansky, James Dick and Fred Bower, a “Liverpool agitator comrade” from Grayson’s early days in Liverpool.

Victor Grayson makes “violent speech” at mass demonstration in Trafalgar Square denouncing the murder of Spanish anarcho-Communist, Francesc Ferrer in 1909.

Under the direction and inspiration of Ferrer, Dick and Bower had helped set up the Anarchist Communist Sunday School in Liverpool. Ploschansky set-up a sister school on Jubilee Street in the Whitechapel district of London (a venue used by Lenin, Trotsky and the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party just a few years previously). In 1909, just 12 months after its conception, the Liverpool school was moved to Beaumont Street in Toxteth, just minutes around the corner from Grayson’s mother on Northbrook Street (Grayson’s mentor, Reverend J. L Haigh is buried in nearby Toxteth Cemetery). Ploschansky and his father returned to Russia in 1917 in time for the October Revolution.

Bower is an interesting character. Born in Boston but raised in Liverpool, the colourful ‘anarcho-syndicalist’ claims he campaigned on Grayson’s behalf in the final week of the Colne Valley by-election of 1907. In his 1936 autobiography, Rolling Stonemason, Bower describes meeting his “old towny” and having many “happy chats” that week. He also claims he was the first to inform the Pankhursts, who had “worked like Trojans” for the candidate, of Victor’s astonishing triumph. Bower was to meet Adela Pankhurst again when he visited Sydney shortly after the war. It was through Pankhurst that he was introduced to Bolshevik Consul, Peter Simonoff — Trotsky and Lenin’s newly appointed representative in Australia. Between 1918 and 1919 Simonoff had been observed entering the house of Ronald Graham Gordon, a member of several local patriot groups but later arrested as a German spy. Gordon, who claimed to have been born in Inverness in 1879, had been in the employment of Carl Frederick Muller, executed some years earlier for spying in Britain. It’s an extraordinary tale in itself featuring deceptions as implausible as a secret printing press hidden in an old piano and clandestine war-time errands for Lord Kitchener. Gordon was deported to Germany but reappears in England in the mid-1930s teaching German to officers at Special Branch. In 1940 he was detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure under Defence Regulation 18b under ‘hostile associations” and possible affiliation with Oswald Mosely’s British Union of Fascists. He was released in 1944 (see records HO 283/39 and also HO 45/25734 of the National Archives).

Fred Bower also claims to have been present at the murder of Australian MP, Percy Brookfield in March 1921. An old friend of Grayson and Bower’s days in Liverpool, Brookfield had become a confidant and friend of Consul Simonoff. Although Official Police Reports cite no political motivation behind the murder, Bower claims the killer, Russian emigre, Koorman Tomayoff had pictures of Lenin, Trotsky and Brookfield in his room. Simonoff subsequently married a New Zealander. In 1914 Bower told British reporters that he and not Tom Mann wrote the infamous, ‘Don’t Shoot: An Open Letter To British Soldiers’ pamplet encouraging British troops to mutiny. Mann had been jailed in 1912 but released after seven weeks of public pressure.

The Trafalgar demonstration wasn’t the first time Grayson showed he was prepared to use violence either. Shortly after his election to Parliament he told striking dock workers in Belfast that if they were attacked by soldiers or police they had every right to fight back using any means possible, including “broken bottles.” His old associate from Liverpool Jim Larkin, now leader of the Belfast dockers union, had managed to persuade 600 of the 1000-strong Royal Irish Constabulary to mutiny in support of the workers. A few days later on August 11th, troops shot dead two of the rioters and injured scores of others as the panicking authorities imposed in a state of martial law.

If Grayson could incite striking workers to sedition he’d have no trouble in inciting troops if the situation arose and the booze took its usual unruly hold of his judgement.

But could replicating the social conditions in which revolution took root in Russia engender the same kind of change in Britain? I’m not so sure. Equipping men with guns and training them in combat may have changed the shape and scale of organized crime in the UK and US dramatically (especially when paired with prohibition), but there was little hope of it ever transforming your average milkman into a dangerous revolutionary. And if Grayson thought it would, then his one-bottle-of-whisky-a-day drinking habit had clearly got the better of him.

If spite of Lenin’s opinion that the working class people of Great Britain were to ignorant and too disorganized for revolution, Special Branch took a more cautious view. In his 1922 book, Queer People, Sir Basil Thomson writes:

Bolshevism has been described as an infectious disease rather than a political creed a disease which spreads like a cancer, eating away the tissue of society until the whole mass disintegrates and falls into corruption … I noticed the same symptoms in a young policeman who was shouting, ‘Let’s have a revolution !’ during the police strike.

Thomson is only too aware of what a surfeit of “Bolshevik oratory” and “bad alcohol” can lead to, and it’s worth noting that on Grayson’s return from Etaples in January 1918, Thomson is believed to have tasked Maudy Gregory, an associate of Grayson, to keep a watchful eye on his movements. Grayson, according to Thomson, was a “dangerous Communist revolutionary” who would, before too long, either link up “with the Sinn Feiners or the Reds”.

Disturbances among New Zealand troops carried on well into 1920, when many of the men still at Bulford (known to New Zealand Army as the Anzac Camp and unofficially as ‘Sling’) felt they should be going home. 14 of the New Zealand conscientious objectors, including Mark Briggs and Archibald Baxter, had been housed at this camp and in 1919 significant numbers of the 4,600 of the New Zealand troops still awaiting demobilization at Sling Camp rioted. That so-called ‘Monocled Mutineer’, Percy Toplis turned up at the camp that same year could only ever only add to the intrigue. And the myths.

Grayson, Bottomley & A Mutiny That Never Was

Personally I’m not committing myself to any one theory. Some writers claim that Grayson was working for British Intelligence and others that he was working for the Soviets or the Irish Secret Service. He may well have been working for all three of them but as long as police and security records on Grayson remain closed we are unlikely to know either way. He was a deeply secretive man and remained a mystery to many of his friends even in his own lifetime. That Grayson disappears within a month of Toplis being ambushed and killed in Penrith in 1920 grabbed my attention certainly, but it’s not proof they ever met, or that Toplis took part in the mutiny. That said, one of the most frequent visitors to Grayson’s house in the months before he vanished was Horatio Bottomley. And herein lies another tale.

Bottomley was the editor of John Bull and regarded as ‘Soldiers’ Friend’ and Bottomley, for for what it’s worth, was in Etaples when the rioting broke out (he had campaigned for better conditions for troops throughout the war). John Fairley and Bill Allision, authors of The Monocled Mutineer go one further than this. They allege that Bottomley negotiated with camp officials on behalf of the troops when demands for camp improvements were served to Brigadier Thomson. It is a claim backed up by Etaples witness, A.B Newland Senior who says that Bottomley “took an active part in persuading the men to return to duty”. Whether he was given “complete control of the situation”, as some early rumours allege, isn’t known. The writers also allege the demands for camp improvements were served by Toplis himself. The diary of General Haig shows that Bottomley was in Etaples at the time and he had dinner with him on the 12th September to discuss the morale of the troops. Just 12 months after Grayson disappeared, Bottomley was charged with War Bond fraud, spent 10 years in prison and died a penniless man in London 2.

On March 6th 1922, just two days before Bottomley was brought to Bow Street Police Court and charged, a letter by A.B Newland was printed in New Zealand’s Otago Daily Times. As a volunteer with the Church Army, Newland had witnessed the mutiny first-hand and asked why Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Stewart of the 1st Canterbury Infantry Regiment had failed to mention the event in his official history of the New Zealand War effort that had been published that same year. The author of the letter even claimed to have a copy of the execution orders for Jesse Short, an event that was not confirmed officially by the MOD until the 1980s [ read letter ]. As it turns out, the author of the official history, Hugh Stewart, was Grayson’s commanding officer and had spent the years immediately prior to the war in Russia. [1] Newland’s claims were corroborated in a separate account in the Manchester Guardian dated February 1930. The Guardian article starts with an incendiary quote from war poet, R.H Mottram, whose book Three Personal Records of War had been published just weeks before:

The culmination of this period was that occurrence, chiefly disgraceful to writers about the war who appear to be in conspiracy to conceal it, the Mutiny at Etaples. All countries engaged in the war had periods of widespread mutiny, a fact which should be noticed and recorded, not hushed up … With the British it occurred … over some rumoured disagreement with the police. I never knew the truth and perhaps no one knows it — The Mutiny at Etaples: An Incident of 1917 Fighting Soldiers and Red Caps, Manchester Guardian, February 13 1930.

What follows in the timeline below, is a fairly informal attempt showing Grayson’s political rise and development alongside the revolutionary drama unfolding in Russia, and as seen through the eyes of the Secret Service, the MiS and Special Branch, whose response to subversive behaviour, both in the trenches and at home, was often nothing short of hysterical. In fact there may be an argument for saying that the seeds of the first ‘Red Scare’ in Britain were planted during and not after the war and are concomitant with anti-German hysteria, especially in view of Vladimir Lenin’s trans-Germany transit back to Russia in time for the October Revolution. The fact that the Bolsheviks’ return to Russia had been signed-off and financed at the highest level by German Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg himself — and without the complete understanding of the Kaiser — could only have added to the paranoia and confusion. The infamous Scisson Documents released shortly after the mutiny in 1918 took concerns to a whole new level. The 68-page collection of ‘secret documents’ obtained by Edgar Scisson alleged that Trotsky, Lenin, and the other Bolshevik revolutionaries were agents of the German government. Fakes the documents may have been, but in some Conservative quarters at least, there was certainly no shortage of faith in them.

It’s not an exhaustive account by any means and is clearly too narrow in scope for any serious analysis, but it’s hoped that it might provoke discussion at the very least. On the otherhand, further discussion may take Victor’s lead and simply vanish.

1 The British Lion, 20, July 1927.
2 Curiously, Labour’s John Beckett, who claims his father lost substantial sums of money in an earlier scheme by Bottomley, says he was one of the few people who saw Grayson alive shortly before he disappeared. The latter claim was made by John’s son Francis Beckett ( co-author of Blair Inc) in his 2016 book, A Fascist in the Family (Routledge). In 1939 John Beckett was interned under Defence Regulation 18b for his pro-Nazi activities as part of the British Union of Fascists.


September 1881: Victor Grayson is born in Liverpool. Just a few months previously the Grayson family had been living on Sidney Street in the Whitechapel/Limehouse district of London. The street was subsequently immortalisized in the famous ‘Sidney Street Siege’ — an event of great revolutionary significance in Britain. In the late 1800s and early 1900s the area was home to the largest Russian emigre community in the UK. Lenin and Stalin would later hold their meetings in the area. The Grayson family itself is steeped in mystery, and much has been made about the true identity of Victor’s parents.

March 1898: Russian Social Democratic Labour Party is founded.

April 1902: Exiled from Russia Vladimir Lenin moves to London. It is here that he meets Russian Marxist Leon Trotsky. Continues production of political newspaper, Iskra (meaning ‘spark’). British Social Democrat activist Harry Quelch offers Lenin use of his office and printing press. In 1920 Quelch’s son Tom Quelch becomes founding member of the Communist Party of Great Britain (in 1905 Iskra falls under control of Georgi Plekhanov).

July 1903: Second Russian Social Democratic Labour Party Congress held in London in July 1903. Lenin, Plekhanov, Trotsky, Martov, Stalin and Rosa Luxemburg all in attendance. The RSDLP splits into Bolsheviks (‘the minority’) and Mensheviks (‘the majority’) as a result of disputes between Lenin and Martov over the definition of party membership. Locations include Three John’s Pub in Islington and the Jubilee Street Club in Whitechapel. London’s East End is favoured due to its substantial Russian population.

1904: Grayson becomes a neighbour of Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst in Ancoats, Manchester. They are also members of the same Independent Labour Party branch in Central Manchester. He becomes a firm confidant of Pankhurst.

December 1906: Adela Pankhurst charged and sentenced over assault in the House of Commons.

January – July 1907: Victor Grayson and Adela Pankhurst (daughter of Manchester Suffragette Emeline Pankhurst) become leading figures in the Manchester’s Independent Labour Party. Adela campaigns actively for Grayson in the Colne Valley. The Women’s Social and Political Union play a central role in his sensational victory when Grayson stands as Independent Socialist/Labour candidate in the Colne Valley (West Yorkshire) by-election.

January – July 1907: Minister F.R Swan steps down from his post as Congregationist Minister in Marsden, Colve Valley in order to campaign full-time for Grayson and the Social Democratic movement. He becomes one of the main supporting speakers.

June 1907: 5th Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (ft. Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and Plekhanov) takes place at Bruce Wallace and Reverend F. R. Swan’s Brotherhood Church in Southgate Road, Whitechapel. As we have seen above the former minister in Marsden, West Yorskhire, the Reverend F.R Swan (a Congregationalist Minister) played a key role in the election of Victor Grayson in the Colne Valley in the summer of 1907 (the Brotherhood Church was a Christian anarchist and pacifist community with roots in Yorkshire and Northern Ireland). German anarchist, Rudolf Rocker and Glasgow Communist and anarchist, Guy Aldred also play host to the Congress on Jubilee Street. The revolutionaries discuss bank robberies as a means of funding the revolution. The 1907 Tiflis bank robbery becomes the most famous of these robberies.

July 1907: Grayson is elected MP for the Colne Valley and moves to London.

Aug 1st – 3rd 1907: Liverpool’s James Larkin, now leading the striking dockers in Belfast invites Glasgow’s John Maclean, and his old Liverpool associates Fred Bower and Victor Grayson to address between 10,000 and 15,000 workers. Rumours persist that Larkin had managed to get 600 members of the 1000-strong Royal Irish Constabulary to support the strike with many men defying the orders of their officers (see: Sir James Sexton, Agitator: The Life of the Docker’s M.P & John Gray, City in Revolt). Some seven thousand troops were drafted in to contain the mutiny. That same year Maclean is introduced to  Trotsky and Lenin associate, Peter Petroff who arrives in Edinburgh at the invitation of the Social Democratic Federation. Petroff remains in the UK and becomes a key figure on ‘Red Clydeside’. Grayson is savaged by the press for making a violence speech encouraging the striking Belfast workers to use broken glass against the troops and police.

September 1907: Emeleine Pankhurst resigns from Independent Labour Party to concentrate attentions on the WSPU.

1908: Lenin and the Bolsheviks relocate to Paris but remain allied to the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party.

March 1909: Still an MP, Victor Grayson attends Labour Conference in Portsmouth. Endures rather comical ‘abduction’ by Conservative motorist making him late for his speech. The abduction had been planned by a retired Conservative Naval Officer. Grayson’s Liverpool comrade Fred Bower says Victor was going to talk about the need for Labour to adopt a more militant policy.

April 1909: Grayson writes, ‘The Case For Efficient National Defence’ in The Clarion after visiting Germany and witnessing first-hand its military build-up.

15th September 1909: Adela Pankhurst justifies violent militant tactics to Taranaki Herald (New Zealand) correspondent.

October 1909: Grayson addresses 8,000 social democrats in Trafalgar Square and makes a violent speech denouncing the execution of Catalan anarchist,
Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia. Henry Hyndman is also present. In the speech Grayson advocates a “life for a life” and declares that if the head of every king in Europe was torn from it’s trunk tomorrow, it would not pay half the price of Ferrer’s life. He says Ferrer’s death lies at the door of King Edward for failing to use his influence in Spain.

January 1910: Grayson loses his seat in the House of Commons.

February 1911: Victor Grayson is invited to the New Zealand Socialist Party’s April Conference in Dunedin (Mark Briggs attends).

August 1911: Formation of British Socialist Party. Grayson is described by the New Zealand Press as its ‘moving spirit’.

March 1912: Grayson becomes an active voice in the Miner’s and Dockers Strikes taking place in Cardiff and the Rhonnda Valley. Criticizes use of military force against striking workers. Condemns arrest of Trade Unionist Tom Mann.

November 1912: Victor Grayson marries Ruth Nightingale (actress Rith Norreys) in Chelsea. Ruth is the daughter John Webster Nightingale (b.1858 Chorlton), a Manchester-Bolton banker whose family have firm links to Lancashire’s Chartist and Nonconformity movements. Her grandfather is Jonathan Nightingale (b.1830) Blackburn. His birth is registered in the National Archive’s among the Non-Conformist Births and Baptism records. Ruth’s great uncle, Benjamin Nightingale was a radical minister whose work is mentioned in the writings of Elizabeth Gaskell (his book, Lancashire Nonconformity is published in 1890). The Nonconformity movement comprised of Presbyterians, Congregationalists and other Calvinist groups. The Nightingales appear to have made their money in Manchester’s Cotton & Textile Industry.

February 1913: Right-wing New Zealand Press report on Grayson and French Socialist efforts to ‘corrupt the army and navy’ should war be declared (they propose calling a general strike).

April 1913: Victor and Ruth Grayson arrive in New York in the midst of a major ‘Silk Strikes’ in New Jersey. His friends and hosts are among the fiercest supporters of the strikes. In an interview with the New York Times Grayson says that murder would be justified during the strikes. In the same interview Ruth describes herself as a ‘militant suffragette’ who believes that women in England are ‘justified in burning houses and raising Cain generally”. She believes that “anything is justifiable.”

April 1913: Grayson visits pro-war Socialists Samuel George Hobson (Cardiff/Bristol) and William English Walling (Kentucky, US). Theye are associates of the pro-Conscription Henry Hyndman and US Russian-Jewish exiles Sergius Ingerman and Boris Reinstein both now active in the Socialist Labour Party of America. Reinstein took control of the US Passaic Weavers strike of 1912 and the ongoing New Jersey Silk strike. In October 1917 Reinstein returns to Russia and is made Head of Propaganda by Vladimir Lenin. Sergius Ingerman stays in America and founds the New York Plekhanov Group. Plekhanov was one of the leading revolutionaries who like Grayson backed the war in the name of ‘defense of the revolution’ and ‘national defence’. Mensheviks like Plekhanov and Tsereteli were advocates of Social-Chauvinism and believed their vision of revolution was not viable under German triumph. They backed the Revolutionaries’ Second International but not the Comintern (Third International) of 1919. At the end of their stay in America Ruth Grayson tells reporters, “The only people I found worthwhile (here) were the Russian Jews. I liked them.”

May 1913: Writing in Pravda Vladimir Lenin describes Grayson as “a very fiery socialist, but one not strong in principles and given to phrase-mongering.” (Pravda, No. 109, 14 May 1913)

March 9th 1914: Grayson delivers violent revolutionary speech in London. “You must fight capitalism with every possible weapon. If they shoot you down you must get ready to shoot them.”

May 1914: Grayson’s Colne Valley campaigner Adela Pankhurst arrives in Melbourne, Australia.

July 1914: Lenin opposes outbreaks World War One as an ‘imperialist conflict’ and calls for proletariat soldiers to mutiny.

17th July 1914: Grayson election campaigner, Adela Pankhurst arrives in Sydney, Australia at the initiation of E. J. Kavanagh and the New South Wales Labour Council. Reinforces case for militancy. Quickly drafted into the Women’s Peace Army led by Suffragette, Vida Goldstein. Here she embarks on an ‘anti-recruitment’ drive (part of the anti-Conscription League’).

July 1914: Grayson is dispatched by Manchester ‘Umpire’ newspaper (later ‘Empire News’) to France as War Correspondent. It is not backed by the war office.

August 1914: Grayson commissions private plane and flies above trenches and beyond enemy lines. On landing back in France he arrested as a German Spy as a result of Police concerns about his requisite papers. The charges are later dropped.

September 1914: Poor health sees Grayson return to England where he engages in recruitment campaigns.

June 1915: Victor Grayson arrives in Australia on what is believed to have been a pro-war recruitment drive. Sails from London on the SS Orontes (the troopship alleged to have ferried Toplis away from to India before any mutiny happened).

September 1915: Ruth Grayson lands job with Allan Wilkie’s Shakespearean Touring Company. Wilkie receives a CBE in in May 1925 for services to the British Empire.

October 1915: Founder of the British Labour Movement and anti-War campaigner Keir Hardie dies. Grayson at one time regarded Hardie as friend and inspiration.

March 1916: New Zealand Christian Socialist and Pacifist Archibald Baxter makes the New Zealand news when he and several of his associates refuse conscription to the New Zealand Defence Force.

April 26th 1916: New Zealand Returned Soldiers’ Association is founded. Victor’s Grayson’s commanding officer serves as President of the Association between 1924 and 1926.

July 1916: Grayson makes career-changing pro-War speech onboard the Orontes in Australia (the ship that Toplis is alleged to have been on at the time of the Etaples Mutiny).

July 1916: Grayson Colne Valley campaigner, Adela Pankhurst arrives in New Zealand for a series of lectures in Wellington, Auckland, Hamilton and a mass meeting at the Manawatu Flaxworker’s Union – chaired by subsequent pacifist and Conscientious Objector, Mark Briggs.

August 1916: Grayson arrives (and stays) in New Zealand. He is accompanied by his wife Ruth Nightingale (actress Ruth Norreys) as part of Wilkie’s Shakespearean Company. The boat they are sailing on nearly sinks.

August 26th 1916: Frank Hughes of New Zealand’s Canterbury Infantry Regiment shot for serial desertion and refusing to obey orders.

September 1916: Grayson gives lecture at Wellington’s Alexandra Hall entitled,The Coming Revolution. He says a social revolution must first take root in the press and religions of the world. This is followed by ‘The Altar of Mammon‘ at an address made at the Socialist Party HQ in Christchurch.

September 1916: Delivers second lecture at Wellington’s Alexandra Hall on behalf of the Social Democratic Party entitled, ‘The War and the Labour Movement’. Attempts create a plausible context for Socialists to back the war.

September 1916: In an interview with the Maoriland Worker, Grayson offers a revealing insight into his pro-Conscription efforts, “the present war would achieve an epoch-making revolution … possibly resulting in the overthrow of capitalism itself”. He claims men would come back from the war “trained to use guns and bayonets and act unitedly”. The men, he goes on, would ‘reap the experiences of the trenches.” His basic premise is that the British proletariat would never be able to go back and accept the terms of their oppression.

October 29th 1916: Conditions at Etaples Camp continue to deteriorate. Private Jack Braithwaite (described as a Bohemian Journalist) serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Otago Regiment of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force is shot for mutiny. Three other New Zealand privates have their sentences commuted. In total five New Zealand soldiers were executed during the war, two from Grayson’s Canterbury Regiment.

November 8th 1916: Adela Pankhurst is back in New Zealand for series of talks in Katamatite.

November 1916: The New Zealand Attoney General calls Grayson a ‘michievous fanatic’.

November 1916: Writing in the Lyttelton Times, Victor Grayson explains reason for his decision to enlist and his complete change of heart about the war and conscription: ” I have joined the army and hope to fight because the Prusso-Germans, because I believe that my ideals stand the best chance of realisation under a British regime … I hate war and I hate killing. yet if I account for the vassals of the world’s mad dog, I shall have ‘done my bit’ towards the world’s regeneration.”

November 28th 1916: Grayson enlists with New Zealand’s 1st Battalion Canterbury Regiment. Leaves Wellington in March 1917 and completes basic training at Sling Camp in Wiltshire, England. The Canterbury Regiment’s Aberdeenshire-born, Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Stewart (and author of the official history of the New Zealand war effort) spent the period before the war teaching in Russian schools and had learned the Russian language. He was the son of Presbyterian minister, John Stewart and Margaret Mackintosh. In his Official History of the New Zealand Division published in 1922 Stewart is accused of hushing-up the mutiny that broke out in Etaples. Stewart subsequently wrote several books on Russia including ‘Provincial Russia’ and ‘Russia’ (with Sunday Times correspondent, George Dobson and Dutch-French painter and draughtsman, Frederic de Haenen). Both books were published by Adam & Charles Black (owned by the politically active, Adam Black of Edinburgh and Soho whose friend Walter Berry had already been imprisoned for writing a ‘seditious’ pamphlet). Stewart’s co-author, George Dobson was arrested by the Cheka (Soviet secret police) in August 1918 on suspicion of spying for the British. British Naval attache, Francis Cromie died defending the British Embassy that same year.

November 1916: Grayson gets cold shouldered by the Australian Labour Movement for supporting Conscription.

March 14th 1917: Grayson Colne Valley campaigner, Adela Pankhurst severs her connection with Australian Peace Movement to focus on organising work for the Socialist Party in Australia.

March 1917 – Russia’s February Revolution. Abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and formation of Russian Provisional Government. Mitigating factors include hunger riots, industrial riots and mass desertions among Russian troops. February Revolution still dominated by capitalist stakeholders and supported by many nobles. Socialists had the support of troops and mutiny was a critical factor. Provisional Government and leading members of the Menshevik vow to continue war with Germany.

March 1917: Manawatu Flaxworker’s Union leader and Pankhurst associate, Mark Briggs is arrested by civilian police. Briggs and his fellow objectors are imprisoned first in Wellington, then at Treantham, Sling Camp (Bulford, Wiltshire) before relocation to Etaples Camp. Their status as Conscientious Objectors is not recognised by the military and their treatment is severe.

March 26th 1917: Victor Grayson and his regiment leave Wellington New Zealand for basic training in the UK.

April 1917: German authorities grant Vladimir Lenin passage through Germany to Russia in a sealed railway car. Germany believes the return of the anti-war Lenin to Russia will undermine the Russian war effort.

April 1917: Baxter and his co-defendants (described by the press as ‘recalcitrant reservists’) are tried by court martial in Wellington, New Zealand for refusing orders. They are sentenced to 84 days imprisonment with hard labour and then sent back to camp.

June 3rd 1917: As a direct response to Russia’s February Revolution, a Labour and Socialist Convention is held in Leeds. Over 1500 delegates from the Socialist Democratic parties including British Socialist Party, the ILP and Women’s Organisations attend convention that creates a Council of Workers’ and Soldiers’ (it is welcomed by the Russian Soldiers and Worker’s Deputies and a R.A.M.C unit). Basil Thomson of Special Branch says it was “resolved to divide Great Britain into Soviets to the ominous number of thirteen.” This was a reference to the thirteen elected conveners: H. Alexander, Charles G. Ammon, W.C. Anderson, M.P., C. Despard, E.C. Fairchild, J. Fineberg, F.W. Jowett, M.P., George Lansbury, J. Ramsay Macdonald, MP., Tom Quelch, Robert Smillie, Philip Snowden, MP., and Robert Williams. The Council folds after just 6ix months as a result of disagreements over the October Revolution.

June 24th 1917: Men awaiting demobilization within the Royal Sussex, Middlesex, Royal West Kent and Buffs regiments declare a branch of the Soldiers and Workmen’s Council. The authorities view it as an attempt to create a Soviet and the movement fails to gain traction with other regiments.

July 1917: Men of Russia’s First Expeditionary Brigade begin to rebel openly against the Russian High Command at La Courtine Camp. About 9,000 men refuse to fight and set up their own camp-based ‘Soviet Republic’.  The situation in Russia remains dangerously unpredictable and the Bolshevik movement is gaining traction.

26th July 1917: Grayson and the 1st Battalion Canterbury Regiment arrive in Devonport, England and are marched into Sling Camp (Bulford Camp) in England to complete basic training.

August 1917: Adela Pankhurst arrested during a march against rising food prices in Melbourne. Sentenced to one month in prison.

August 1917: Adela’s mother, Emmeline Pankhurst meets Alexander Kerensky, the provisional Justice Minister in Russia. Kerensky played a key role in the Russia’s February Revolution (he leads the moderate Trudoviks faction of the Socialist Revolutionary Party). Between March and October 1917 Kerensky serves as Minister of Justice in Russia’s Provisional Government. Britain are eager to keep the Russians in the War.

August 19th 1917: Private John King of New Zealand’s Canterbury Infantry Regiment is executed for desertion by firing squad.

September 5th 1917: Victor Grayson and his Canterbury Infantry Regiment complete basic training at Sling Camp (Bulford) and leave for France.

September 9th 1917: Victor Grayson and the Canterbury Infantry Regiment arrive at Etaples Camp.

September 9th 1917: Etaples Mutiny breaks out (New Zealand and Australian troops take leading role in riots). Disturbances mitigated by vicious beating of Arthur John (‘Jock’) Healy – a bugler within New Zealand’s Field Artillery (b. 1896). Service records show regular displinary action taken by Military Police and periods of ‘rest’ in hospital.

September 10th 1917: Etaples soldiers set out demands for improvements to camp conditions (access to town in particular)

September 11th 1917: Small delegation of Etaples soldiers (alleged to have included Percy Toplis) seek support of ‘Soldier’s Champion’ Horatio Bottomley who edits the John Bull newspaper. By chance he is staying at the Hotel des Voyagers in Etaples at the time of the incident. Bottomley writes on October 6th how he sets out their complaints: “Leave, Pay, Field Punishment, Military Policing, Short Rations and Cushy Posts”.

September 12th 1917: General Haig’s diary records that he meets Bottomley for lunch. An entry on the same describes the events at Etaples: “The AG reported some disturbances which have occurred at Etaples, due to some men of new drafts with revolutionary ideas who produced red flags and refused to obey orders. The ring leaders have been arrested, and the others sent to their units at the front.” Did these ‘new drafts’ include Grayson’s Canterbury Regiment?

Mutineer James Cullen (sentences to one year, suspended) later writes: “I was approached by a prominent Communist agitator, who asked me what part I would take in getting the troops to mutiny. There was a small council of action set up and we set about doing everything possible to get a general rising… the councils of action, of which I was one, were giving instructions through under channels. The revolt lasted three days, at the end of which a truce was come to between the General Officer Commanding and the rebel troops. I was one who refused point blank to recognise the truce and carried on with a small band of irresponsibles. Eventually we tried to rush the guard one night, but were repulsed. I was captured and made a prisoner.”

September 12th 1917 (same day) A headline in New Zealand’s The Maoriland Worker reads: “The Great Australian Revolt”. It relates the story and persecution of Adela Pankhurst and the ‘mighty working class revolt’ (Maoriland Worker, Volume 8, Issue 342, 12 September 1917).

September 12th – September 16th 1917: Demands for camp improvements are granted: the removal of the Assistant Provost Marshall (Captain Strachan) and the ‘Red Caps’, the canceling of out-of-bounds orders, a modification of the Bull Ring (training ground) ‘torture’ and the assurance that no man was to be court-martialled for taking part in the mutiny.

September 16th 1917: In France loyal Russian troops battle mutinous Russian troops who have taken arms with the Bolsheviks. Over twenty Russian troops are killed (it subsquently becomes known as the massacre of La Courtine).

September 18th 1917: Etaples mutineer Arthur ‘Jock’ Healy admitted to Etaples General Hospital (there is no mention in his service records of any disciplinary action being taken against Healy for any role played in the mutiny).

September 22nd 1917: Grayson and the 1st Battalion Canterbury Regiment ordered to the front.

September 22nd 1917: Yorkshire-born objector Mark Briggs marched into Sling Camp (the same New Zealand Army base at Bulford in Wiltshire where Grayson completed his training)

September 1917: Britain’s 74 Chinese Labour Corps in Boulogne go on rampage. A total of 27 unarmed strikers are shot dead, 39 are wounded and 25 are taken prisoner.

October 1st: Mutineer Arthur ‘Jock’ Healy moved from Etaples to a hospital in London England.

October 4th: Etaples Mutineer Jesse Robert Short of the 24 Northumberland Fusiliers, executed by firing squad.

October 6th 1917: New Zealand Conscientious Objector, Mark Briggs arrives in Etaples from Sling Camp (Bulford) and is immediately sentenced to Field Punishment 1: the ‘crucifixion’ – loosely tied to a pole and forced into a hanging position. His torture is ordered by Lieutenant Colonel George Mitchell, generally thought to have helped restore order at the camp in the aftermath of the mutiny. Officers quiz Briggs about his Socialist ‘tendencies’.

October 15th 1917: Victor Grayson is wounded at Passchendaele. Admitted to 9th General Hospital (wound to the left hip). Medical notes say condition made worse by years of alcoholism (1 bottle of whisky a day) and epileptic seizures since 1911.

October 23rd 1917: Etaples Mutineer James Cullen in detention awaiting trial for mutiny. His sentence is suspended and he is sent to the front.

October 29th 1917: Grayson is transferred to No.1 New Zealand General Hospital in Brockenhurst, England.

November 7th 1917: The October Revolution in Russia. Lenin’s Bolshevik-led Red Guards remove the Provisional Government and proclaim soviet rule. Tsar Nicholas III and his family are executed in July 1918.

November 1917: New Zealand Conscientious Objector Archibald Baxter and 13 other detainees leave New Zealand aboard the troopship Waitemata bound for Cape Town on 14 July 1917, imprisoned in the ship’s lockup. They are stripped and put into uniform.

January 8th 1918: Baxter arrives at Sling Camp (Bulford Camp, Wiltshire) after measles outbreak in Cape Town.

January 26th 1918: Military Police warrant issued on Etaples mutineer Arthur John Healy for absentee journey to Edinburgh.

January 28th 1918: New Zealand conscientious objector Archibald Baxter arrives in Etaples. The camp is now under the control of Sling Camp’s Lieutenant Colonel George ‘Hoppy’ Mitchell. The official explanation is that it is to relieve overcrowding at the detention camp at Sling/Bulford, but there are some indications that it was to provide the correct legal framework to mete out more severe punishment.

January 1918: Grayson is discharged from military service as medically unfit. On his return to England he seeks (but is not offered) a financial arrangement with the National War Aims Committee to campaign on their behalf.

Februay 1918: Ruth Grayson gives birth prematurely and dies.

February 18th 1918: Bolsheviks appoint Maxim Litvinovas their Consul in England.  John Maclean is appointed Bolshevik Consul in Glasgow. Maclean is subsequently imprisoned for sedition (inciting other Socialists to begin a revolution by seizing the city’s town hall, its banks and post offices). Money is said to have been funnelled to Maclean through bank accounts belonging to Litvinovas (Bolshevik Pay For Agitators, Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume LXXIV, Issue 0, 19 December 1918)

February 1918: Attempted mutiny breaks out on two Imperial Russian ships docked in Liverpool (the Poryv and the Razsvet). Voices are heard crying, ‘Shoot the officers’).

February 1918: Victor Grayson is drafted into trade unionist, Havelock Wilson’s Merchant Seamen’s League. He undertakes active campaigning in Glasgow and ‘Red Clydeside’.

February 1918: Basil Thomson, Head of Special Branch asks impresario Maundy Gregory to keep an eye on Grayson.

April 1918: Grayson provides detailed account of his month-long military career and injury in the Daily Mail.

April 1918: Grayson suddenly withdraws completely from public life, and his attachment to Wilson is severed. He does not feature in Wilson’s plans again.

August 30 1918: Major Police strike in England. 12,000 officers go on strike. Sir Basil Thomson believes it to be economic and not revolutionary in nature.

September 1918: Etaples Mutineer Arthur ‘Jock’ Healy discharged as a result of diagnosed heart murmur (New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs records his death as 1966 in Blenheim). Healy went on to serve with the New Zealand Home Guard and as Engine Driver in World War II.

June-November 1918: Grayson moves to Bury Street in London’s St James Palace. Maundy Gregory and Etaples Soldier’s Champion, Horatio Bottomley become Grayson’s most fequest visitors.

November 1918 & March 1919: Riots break out among New Zealand Troops at the Sling Camp (Bulford). Grayson’s old regiment, the Canterbury Regiment is involved. The giant Bulford Kiwi is carved out of the hillside as a way of restoring order and discipline. Transport issues and the influenza pandemic mean that the last group of New Zealand soldiers do not arrive home until May 1920.

January 1919: National Union of Ex-Servicemen (NUX) is founded in London by ‘Victor Grayson mystery’ witness, John Beckett and Ernest Mander, a worker at the ‘Ministry of Munitions’ in London who moves to New Zealand in 1920.

January 10th 1919: Military riots break out in Folkestone. Disturbances breal out at other camps. The slow demobilization process is blamed.

January 1919: Bolshevik violinist, Eduard Sõrmus schedules UK tour to coincide with Sylvia’s ‘Hands of Russia’ meeting at Albert Hall in March.

Janaury 31st 1919: Battle of George Square. Glasgow and Clydeside area is scene of intense riots as 60,000 demonstrators battle with Police. Troops are called in as Churchill’s fears of a Bolshevik revolution take hold. Subsequently referred to as Black Friday. James Cullen associate, William Gallacher is arrested. Maclean’s Red Clydeside Movement is judged to be behind it.

1919: New Zealand Maoriland Worker writer, Edward Hunter (aka. Billy Banjo) returns to Glasgow. The former secretary of the Huntly branch of the New Zealand Socialist Party and Grayson supporter has already been charged with sedition and is blacklisted on the coalfields of New Zealand. As brother-in-law of Scottish Socialist and Labour MP James C. Welsh he enjoys an active role in Clydeside Politics and Political theatre.

March 1919: Special Branch report signs of co-operation between ex-servicemen’s The Sailors’, Soldiers’,and Airmen’s Union and extreme Labour organisations.

August 1919: Percy Toplis re-enlists under his own name in the RASC. He is based at Bulford Camp alongside the remaining New Zealand units (Sling).

April 1920: Still at Bulford, Toplis is charged and sentenced (in absentia) over the murder of taxi driver George Spicer. Another Bulford Soldier, Harry Fallows is arrested. He says he played no part in the murder of Spicer but had accompanied Toplis on a ‘joyride’ to Cardiff and Swansea in the aftermath murder. Toplis makes his way to Bala in Monmouthshire, South Wales, just a few short miles from the home of executed mutineer, Jess Short. He theads back to London and then Scotland.

1920: Adela Pankhurst becomes founding member of the Communist Party of Australia.

June 1920: So-called mutineer Percy Toplis ambushed and killed in Penrith.

1920 – : Glasgow mutineer James Cullen becomes a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, and is later offered a place as speaker in Havelock Wilson’s Industrial Peace Union alongside Adela Pankhurst and Tom Walsh. Like Cullen, Pankhurst eventually moves across to the right and forms the Australia First Movement in 1941.

May 1920: ‘Hands Off Russia’ campaign successful in holding strikes. London dockers refuse to load munitions onto ships to support Poland’s fight against Russia. Anti-communist Intelligence community grows concerned about government’s failure to contain British Bolshevism. To support efforts, Joseph Ball is recruited as Mi5’s Head of B Division: the Counter-Espionage Unit.

September 1920: Victor Grayson disappears, never to be seen again.

September 28th 1920: Painter George Flemwell now based in Switzerland claims that on a rare visit to England on September 28th he spots his old friend Victor Grayson entering ‘Vanity Fair’ — a bungalow on Ditton Island in the Thames owned by Maundy Gregory. According to former Sunday Times journalist and one time Fleming associate, Donald McCormick, the same George Flemwell appears in a coded diary entry by suspected Cambridge Spy Ring Master, Arthur Cecil Pigou. The quote from the diary reads: “Established communications with Piatnitsky via George Flemwell in Switzerland: this is permanent link by Verlet in Geneva.” Osip Piatnitsky was one of the Russian revolutionaries who attended the 5th Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in London alongside Stalin and Lenin. Their host, Reverend F.R Swan was one of Grayson’s most committed campaigners in the 1907 Colne Valley by-election. The existence of the diary cannot be confirmed.

May 1922: Etaples champion and Grayson visitor, Horatio Bottomley is arrested and charged with fraud. He served 5 years and died penniless in 1933.

January 1st 1927: Toplis’ Bulford accomplice Harry Fallows is found dead in mysterious circumstances in a cave in Derbyshire. He had been living in Manchester and dating a girl called Marjorie Coe Stewart of Mayne Fabric Company in Salford. The girl is also found dead in the cave. Their death comes just a few months after the end of the Great Strike.

Main Sources

Victor Grayson, The Man Behind The Mystery, David Clark, 2016

The New Zealand Division, Otago Daily Times, Issue 18496, 6 March 1922

BBC Radio 4 – Punt PI, Series 7, The Case of the MP Who Vanished

Armageddon or Calvary: The Conscientious Objectors of New Zealand and “The Process of Their Conversion”, XV, Mark Briggs.

Echo of the War (Mutiny in Etaples), Evening Post, Volume CIX, Issue 85, 10 April 1930

Mutiny at Etaples, Lake Wakatip Mail, Issue 3948, 20 May 1930

NZDF Personnel Archives

Maoriland Worker, 1909-1918

Poverty Bay Herald

The Coming Revolution – New Zealand Times, Volume XLI, Issue 9461, 22 September 1916

Rolling Stonemason: An Autiobiography of Fred Bower, Fred Bower, Jonathan Cape, 1936

Manawatu Times, Volume XL, Issue 13556, 21 November

New Zealand Star, Issue 12284, 5 April 1918

Evening Post, Volume XCII, Issue 70, 20 September 1916

Otago Daily Times, Issue 17319, 20 May 1918

Greymouth Evening Star, 20 May 1918

The Bottomley Case, New Zealand Herald, Volume LIX, Issue 18048, 24 March 1922

Fascist in the Family (Routledge Studies in Fascism and the Far Right), Francis Beckett, 2016

Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXVI, Issue 8542, 31 August 1916

Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIII, Issue 8813, 9 March 1914

Hastings Standard, Volume IV, Issue 415, 22 July 1915

Feilding Star, Volume XIII, Issue 3138, 11 January 1917

Non-Conformist Births And Baptisms

Press, Volume LXIV, Issue 19329, 6 June 1928

World War I Almanac, David R. Woodward

Northern Advocate, 14 July 1928

Industrial Peace Union of the British Empire, Adela Pankhurst Walsh, Pallamana Press (Australia)

Mutiny at Etaples, Julian Putkowski, Shot at Dawn website

Douglas Haig: Diaries and Letters 1914-1918, Gary Sheffield, John Bourne

Stalin and Lenin’s forgotten London hangouts, Daily Telegraph, Hugh Morris

Conspirator: Lenin in Exile, Helen Rappaport

Lenin in London: Memorial Places, trans. Jane Sayer

William J. Fishman, East End Jewish Radicals, 1875-1914

The untold story of the man who started the Great War mutiny, Arthur Whelan

Churchill’s Secret Enemy, Jonathan Pile


One Comment Add yours

  1. Was Victor Grayson the inspiration for Alan Bleasdale character Charles Strange in the BBC drama series, the Monocled Mutineer? It’s possible. The stammer is present in both of them, they have the same sweeping blonde locks, the same movie-star looks, the same Socialist principles, the same fierce Northern oratory and both meet untimely ends through what can only be called blackmail. In the series Strange is found dead in an apparent suicide shortly before the death of Toplis, and in real life Grayson disappears, presumed dead, shortly after the death of Toplis. And of course: they were both at Etaples. Curiously, the BBC Documentary The Curious Case of Victor Grayson was broadcast in October 1985 – just several months before The Monocled Mutineer.


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