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How one small penny saved a soldier’s life

Private John Trickett's life was saved by a penny. Credit: Hansons

Private John Trickett looked death in the eye when an enemy bullet was aimed at his heart during the First World War – but a penny saved his life.

Private Trickett kept the penny in the breast pocket of his soldier’s uniform as a reminder of home.

It proved to be his lucky penny, as the coin took the full impact of a German bullet during the conflict.

The items are being sold at auction by John's granddaughter, Maureen Coulson, 63, from Duffield in Derbyshire.

The coin took the full impact of a German bullet. Credit: Hansons

Everyone in our family saw the penny and heard the story of how it saved my grandfather’s life.

My grandad was born in 1899 and would have been around 19 years old when the incident happened. 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. 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.

It’s strange to think that, but for that penny, his children would not have been born and I wouldn’t be here.

– Maureen Coulson
The penny was left dented. Credit: Hansons

The dented penny is being sold by Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers’ militaria expert Adrian Stevenson.

The penny is part of a collection of collectable items belonging to Private Trickett, including his British War Medal and Victory Medal.

The collection will be sold on March 22 with an estimate of £30-£50.

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.

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.

– Adrian Stevenson