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Musket balls found in ‘Killing Zone’ as Norfolk veteran returns from dig

A soldier looks on as veterans search for artefacts. Photo: Annick Wijnstra

A soldier looks on as veterans search for artefacts. Photo: Annick Wijnstra

Annick Wijnstra

A Norfolk veteran has returned from a dig at the Battle of Waterloo site as part of a scheme to help veterans living with disabilities.

Veterans used a range of tools. Photo: Les McCullochVeterans used a range of tools. Photo: Les McCulloch

Les McCulloch served in the army since leaving school in 1981. Working his way through the ranks to a Major, now 54, he has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but finds that archeology helps with his symptoms.

The group made the trip to the Belgium battlefield and château to take part in an archeological dig as part of Waterloo Uncovered- a charity specialising in veteran care and recovery through archeology.

The father-of-two said: “It was a very good experience. Two weeks with lots of archeologists, doing a lot of archeology but there was also a lot of creative activities.

“Pottery, creative writing and artwork, it was very creative but with like minded people.”

A musket ball discovered on the dig. Photo: Les McCullochA musket ball discovered on the dig. Photo: Les McCulloch

Mr McCulloch has served in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Iraq, Afghanistan, Canada and Nepal. Around 25 veterans from across the country made the trip to Belgium.

Originally from Scotland Mr McCulloch moved to Attleborough in 2015. He added: “We found a lot of French and English musket balls in a place called the Killing Zone.”

The Killing Zone was a 30m area up to the château wall French soldiers had to run across to get back to cover.

He added: “Finding the musket balls we were able to pin-point where big battles happened. That was very interesting.

Les McCulloch on the dig. Photo: Les McCullochLes McCulloch on the dig. Photo: Les McCulloch

“It was a very good two weeks. A lot of people that go through this kind of treatment or with mental health issues find creative activities going on that they didn’t know were there.

“It was good from that perspective and it’s quite relaxing to sit and create something and have an end product.

“Looking back at my journals I found I was writing poems without even realising it.”

Waterloo Uncovered was founded by Mark Evans and Charlie Foinette after they discovered that archaeology helped Mr Evans’ PTSD recovery.

Les McCulloch. Photo: Les McCullochLes McCulloch. Photo: Les McCulloch

This, combined with the pairs love of history inspired them to create the charity.

The Battle of Waterloo was fought in June 1815 with Napoleon’s French army being defeated by British and Prussian allies in the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, modern day Belgium.

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