Souvenir king enraged the Kaiser
Name: John "Barney" Hines
Unit: 45th Battalion AIF
Location: France, Belgium
John "Barney" Hines was a real thorn in the side of the German army during World War I, so much so that the Kaiser put a price on his head "dead or alive".
Hines had the happy knack of being able to wreck German pill boxes which threatened Australian troops using his favourite Mills bombs (grenades).
On top of that, he became a master at souveniring, looting all sorts of items from dead and captured Germans and returning triumphant to the Australian lines. So good was he that he became known as the "Souvenir King".
It was a photograph showing Barney Hines squatting among a pile of souvenirs after the Battle of Polygon Wood in France in 1917 that originally infuriated the Kaiser and brought about his demand to capture the "Australian Barbarian" dead or alive. The photograph was passed among Australians and eventually a copy fell into the hands of the Germans.
Barney was not at all fazed by his notoriety and continued to collect great supplies of badges, helmets, guns, watches and other jewellery while maintaining his amazing attacks on German troops. He was reputed to have killed more Germans than any other soldier in the AIF.
On one occasion he reached a German pill box and danced on the roof taunting the occupants to come out. When nothing happened he lobbed a couple of Mills bombs through the gun openings, killing some and forcing the rest, about 63 of them, to come out with raised arms. He duly collected his souvenirs from them and herded them back to the Australian lines.
Among his more unusual souvenirs were a grand piano, which he managed to keep for several days, a grand father clock which was eventually blown up by his own men because it attracted shell fire from the German lines whenever it chimed, a barrel of Bass ale, which he shared with his comrades, and several suitcases full of banknotes from the bank at Amiens. He was arrested by British military police but caused so much bother he was returned to his unit.
Hines was born in Liverpool, England, and tried to join the British Army when he was 14. His mother intervened and he was returned to her care. Two years later he joined the navy but lasted a year till he was discharged after a bad bout of malaria.
He headed for the Klondike gold rush and got caught up in the Boer War where he worked as a guide for British troops, before trying his luck in New Zealand and eventually reaching Australian shores.
When World War I broke out he tried to enlist in the AIF when already in his 40s. He was rejected on medical grounds. But he persisted and was finally accepted, sent to France as a reinforcement for the 45th Battalion.
And then began his amazing sequence of daring attacks and enthusiastic souveniring.
His luck had to run out eventually and he was wounded when at Passchendaele every man in his Lewis gun crew was killed by an exploding shell. Hines was flung 20 yards through the air, had the soles ripped from his boots but still managed to crawl back and keep firing until he fainted from his wounds.
He was soon back in action but not long afterwards was hit above the eye by a bullet and was hit by a gas attack. He was eventually repatriated to Australia and recovered sufficiently to take up droving, prospecting and timber cutting. When World War II broke out he again tried to enlist in his 60s but for some reason was rejected.