A dented penny which saved the life of a British soldier by deflecting an enemy bullet during World War I has come to light after 100 years.
Private John Trickett kept the penny in the top breast pocket of his soldier’s uniform as a poignant reminder of home during the conflict – and it proved to be his lucky coin when it took the impact of a German bullet on a French battlefield in 1914.
An enemy soldier had aimed his weapon at Pt. Trickett’s heart, but the penny deflected the danger and ultimately saved his life.
It was kept by the serviceman as a reminder of how he stared death in the eye during the war, which claimed 10 million soldier’s lives including those of his two brothers.
The bent penny, which was minted in 1889 and passed down through his family for generations, is now set to be sold at auction.
Trickett’s granddaughter, 63-year-old Maureen Coulson from Duffield, Derbyshire, said: “Everyone in our family saw the penny and heard the story of how it saved my grandfather’s life.
“His two brothers, Horace and Billy, both died in the First World War. My grandad was the only survivor.
“My grandad was born in 1899 and would have been around 19 years old when the incident happened,” she added. “He had to come home because of the injury. It damaged his left-hand side and left him deaf in his left ear. It also affected his balance.
“We think it’s likely he signed up to serve in the army when he was under age as he looked older than he was. Many soldiers were under age, they were so keen to serve their country.
“He was a great big guy from a Lincolnshire farming background, but as soft as a brush. He worked with horses back home and couldn’t bear to see the way they were treated on the battlefield.
“When he returned to the UK, he married my gran, Clementine, and they had eight children. He had various jobs after the war, including working as a postmaster and as a switchboard operator at Barnburgh Colliery in South Yorkshire. I was only six when he died [in 1962, but] I remember him well.
“It’s strange to think that, but for that penny, his children would not have been born and I wouldn’t be here.”
The penny is part of a collection of war-related ephemera belonging to Pt. Trickett which includes his British War Medal and Victory Medal.
The collection will be sold at Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers on March 22nd for an estimated of £30 to £50.
Militaria expert Adrian Stevenson, who found the coin, said: “It looks to me like a pistol bullet hit the penny at close range.
“I’ve come across many stories of random objects saving soldiers’ lives but I’ve never seen anything like this before.
“Soldiers used to keep objects in their breast pockets in an attempt to protect themselves from enemy fire and explosions. Shrapnel was the biggest killer in wartime.
“It’s likely John Trickett kept the penny there on purpose. When the bullet hit the coin, it ricocheted up through … his ear. It left him deaf and disabled, but still alive.
“I’ve heard about random objects deflecting bullets to save lives before but, until now, I’d never had the opportunity to see and examine them myself.
“I hope a keen militaria collector will buy and treasure these items. The penny is a poignant reminder of the fine line between life and death, particularly in wartime.”
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