‘Wild Eyes,’ a brave Liverpool soldier with a strange habit.


‘Wild Eyes,’ a brave Liverpool soldier with a strange habit.

One of the most well-known images of World War I is of a soldier sitting next to a pile of German weaponry, which was published in late 1917.

The painting was titled ‘Wild Eye, the Souvenir King,’ and it depicted a soldier named John ‘Barney’ Hines, who was born on October 11, 1878, in Liverpool.

John Hines, born Johannes Heim to German immigrant parents Jacob and Dora Heim, grew up in the Vauxhall neighborhood of Scotland Road.

Cold War bunkers subterranean beneath the streets

Jacob married Hannah Maher in 1899 at Our Lady’s Church on Eldon Street, and they had two children together.

Hines served in the British Army and Royal Navy before enlisting as a soldier in WWI.

After coming to New Zealand in 1904, the misbehaving Liverpudlian racked up a lengthy criminal record that included convictions for theft, obscene language, and even attacking a police officer.

Hines enrolled in the Australian Imperial Force in 1915, claiming to be 28 years old at the time.

He was released from the army in 1916 due to ill health, but returned a few months later to battle the German forces on the Western Front during World War I.

During this time, he earned a reputation as a valiant fighter who was also known for stealing mementos from fallen German soldiers.

After the Battle of Polygon Wood in September 1917, Australian photographer Frank Hurley took the famous shot of Hines, which was used as propaganda.

It shows Hines sitting amid his plundered things, which included a German soldier’s helmet, ammunition, grenades, money, and other personal belongings seized from the dead.

Despite his kleptomania, Hines was regarded as a great fighter by his fellow soldiers, whose valor stood out in the world’s bloodiest conflict.

He is said to have killed more German soldiers than any other member of the Australian army.

Hines was once described as “a tower of strength to the battalion…while he was in the line” by a military commander.

His antics on the battlefield earned him the nickname ‘Wild Eyes’ among his fellow soldiers.

He would go into battle with two stuffed sand bags, as he disliked using his firearm. “The summary has come to an end.”


Comments are closed.