A remarkable tale of how a stack of coins saved the life of a Belgian World War I soldier has been revealed by his great-grandson.
Optatius Buyssens had been carrying some loose change in the breast pocket of his jacket when he went on a reconnaissance mission near the Belgian town of Lebbeke in September 1914.
The clinking noise of the metal in his pocket alerted nearby German troop, but when he came under fire, the bullet ricocheted off the coins, saving his life.
A blessing (and a curse): Belgian soldier Optatius Buyssens gave away his position to German troops when these coins began making a clinking noise in his pocket – but they also saved his life when their bullet ricocheted off them
Lucky escape: After Buyssens was shot, the German soldier who had fired kicked him in the head and left him for dead
The amazing story of Buyssens, who survived the war and died in 1958, was shared on Reddit by his great-grandson Vincent Buyssens.
Posting a photo of the coins, the 28-year-old 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.
‘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.
Survivor: Optatius Buyssens was shot in September 1914, survived the rest of the war and spent a few years in the UK with his family, before moving back to Belgium
One of the coins which saved the life of the brave soldier Optatius Buyssens
‘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 also revealed that his great-grandfather’s recently unearthed correspondence had revealed that after he was shot, his family did not hear from him for a year – until he eventually sent them a letter explaining what had happened in the war.
Dear brother: After Optatius Buyssens was shot, his family did not hear from him for more than a year – until he eventually sent his brother a letter explaining what had happened in the war
Unbelievable tale: The amazing story of Buyssens was shared on Reddit by his great-grandson Vincent Buyssens, seen here holding the life-saving coins
When peace came, Vincent’s great-grandfather and grandfather moved to the UK, but returned to Antwerp after WWII.
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, including Vincent himself.
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.’