Tributes To Gosport Soldier

The widow of a Hampshire soldier who was shot dead in Afghanistan on Saturday has described him as a wonderful husband and father.

Sapper Blanchard was killed as a result of a gunshot wound suffered whilst he was tasked to a suspect device in the Nahr-e Saraj North area of Helmand province.

Sapper William Blanchard deployed to Afghanistan on 17th September 2010 as part of the Counter Improvised Explosive Device Task Force. Trained to assist in the preparation and operation of explosive ordnance disposal equipment and the recognition and management of conventional munitions, he was part of an Improvised Explosive Device Destroy team operating in Helmand province.

On 30th October 2010 his team were in the process of destroying a device when they were engaged by small arms fire. During the engagement Sapper Blanchard was struck by a bullet and died from the injuries he sustained.

Sapper William Blanchard

Sapper Blanchard, aged 39, from Gosport in Hampshire, joined 221 Field Squadron (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) (Volunteers), part of 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) in 2007. He completed his basic training and then his Elementary Explosive Ordnance Disposal course before volunteering for mobilisation in 2010.

Once mobilised he joined 61 Field Squadron (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) for mission specific training in Woodbridge before deployment. A friendly, well considered and down to earth individual he was the cornerstone of the reservist element within the Task Force.

He aspired to attempt Officer selection on completion of his operational service and was already showing many of the hallmarks of a great leader.

A radiation protection officer by profession he gained a double honours degree in Chemistry with Organic Chemistry and a Masters in Biomedical Pharmacology at the University of Southampton.

He leaves behind a large family including his wife, Suzanne Blanchard, and his children, Tom and Lucy Rees-Blanchard, his father, The Reverend Canon Lawrence Blanchard, and six brothers, Tom, Dan and Ned Blanchard and John, Chris and Shane Sargeant.

Sapper Blanchard's wife, Mrs Suzanne Blanchard, said:

"Will was a wonderful husband, son, brother, father, brother-in-law, son-in-law and friend. Sorely missed; always in our hearts, never forgotten by his devastated family, friends and colleagues and his beloved wife."

Read tributes from his colleagues here.