WU People: Hans Droppert

Hans Droppert, hard at work cleaning a musket ball

Hans Droppert (63) is a veteran of the Dutch Royal Navy Reserve from Heinkenszand (NL). He has been cleaning and organising finds fresh out of the trenches. 

Hans plans on sharing some of the stories of his fellow veterans in Dutch classrooms. These experiences are part of his project ‘Veteran in the Classroom’ (Veteraan in de Klas) which spreads awareness of the military and veterans amongst younger children. During his career, Hans used to act as liason between the Merchant Navy and the Royal Navy. These communications ensured smooth sailing, both for civilians and military men.

At Waterloo Uncovered, Hans has met many brothers and sisters in arms with varied backgrounds. He finds it useful to “just listen to them” and take their story home, where they might offer some solace and recognition to fellow veterans. Additionally, by participating he feeds his longstanding interest in the Napoleonic era (including the painting of miniature soldiers!). Talking, laughing and working together helps to promote “the community feeling that can be so important to veterans”.

Waterloo Uncovered offers me a different way to learn,” Hans explains. “I get to look at the excavations through a lens of my knowledge of Napoleon, the university Summer School that I followed, and the Leiden history courses I took.” Walking around the excavation site, he can exchange stories with just about everyone he meets. “I’m having fun, actually – that might sound strange for such a serious project,” he says. “But laughing together is also very important for veterans, and I take a lot of pleasure in talking to other people on the dig.”