How this stack of coins saved a First World War soldier’s life

A stack of coins was found to be an unlikely lifesaver when a Reddit user revealed that his great-grandfather narrowly avoided being shot during the First World War thanks to the change in his pocket.

Belgian soldier Optatius Buyssens was carrying a stack of coins in his jacket when a bullet ricocheted off them, saving his life.

Posting a photo of the coins to Reddit, Vincent Buyssens said: “These coins stopped a bullet and saved my great-grandfather’s life during World War One.”

Vincent, who lives in Antwerp, said his father was given the coins by Optatius along with his notes and journals from the war.

He told the Press Association: “The story I shared on Reddit happened at the very early days of the war during a battle in the Belgian town of Lebbeke. Ironically, the coins were the reason why he got shot because it was the noise of them clinking together in his breast pocket which gave his position away.

“He was very lucky since the bullet that should have killed him ricocheted off of the coins, thus saving his life. He got kicked in the head by the German soldier who shot him, but tricked the soldier into thinking he was dead.

“When the German soldier left, he and another wounded comrade managed to crawl to safety.”

(Vincent Buyssens)

Vincent’s great-grandfather and grandfather lived in the UK after the First World War, but returned to Antwerp after the Second World War. Optatius died before Vincent was born.

Vincent said: “When I first heard the story years ago I couldn’t believe it, but when I talked with my dad and granddad and read through his journals it became immediately clear to me that it was legit.

“Since then the story kept lingering in my head.”

Reddit users pointed out that it was not just Optatius’ life that was saved by the stack of coins, but the generations who would never have been born had he died.

The incredible story has more than 131,000 upvotes on the website, with many astounded by Optatius’ luck.

Vincent said: “There were some people who were sceptical on Reddit, but when I explained to them the full story in detail they were appreciative and thought it was really cool.

“Most people found it just a cool story. Including my family. I’m sure this will be the subject of the night during Christmas Eve.”

- Press Association

More on this topic

Flanders Fields Memorial inaugurated in Dublin

UK envoy ‘regrets’ 1919 Amritsar massacre by British forces

12 Private Ryans found in medal search

Look around Europe — can you tell me World War I is over?

More in this Section

Incredible time-lapse video shows Cork's newest bridge being installed

Eurovision 2019: How a night of banter and bondage played out on Twitter

Police order McDonald’s to stop selling milkshakes near Nigel Farage rally

Rare book returned to Donegal library 82 years after it was borrowed


Appliance of Science: How do we achieve a sustainable future?

Peter Dowdall: What we can do every day to improve the planet

Runner of the Week: Cork City Marathon pacer Paula Wright

Meet the man on a mission to save a little-known river in Cork City

More From The Irish Examiner