Sapper William Blanchard
Corps of Royal Engineers.
Sapper Will Blanchard was killed as a result of a gunshot wound suffered whilst he and his team were dealing with a suspected explosive device in the Nahr-e-Saraj (North) area of Helmand province on Saturday 30th October 2010.
Will 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 a team operating from Patrol Base Rahim.
Sapper Will Blanchard, from Gosport in Hampshire joined 221 Field Squadron (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), part of 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment (EOD) in 2007. He completed his basic training and then his elementary ordnance disposal course before volunteering for mobilisation in 2010. Once mobilised he joined 61 Field Squadron (EOD) for mission specific training in Woodbridge, before deployment on Op Herrick 13.
Will aspired to attempt officer selection on completion of his operational service and was already showing many 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.
Some tributes paid to Will after his death included:
“Known as the Colonel, he was a perfectionist but one who had endless patience with his fellow soldiers, he was both impeccable and irreplaceable, people like Sapper Blanchard only come along once in a blue moon.” Lt Colonel Mark Davis, CO, C-IED Task Force
“His dedication to the Territorial Army, to his training and his desire to deploy on operations was an example to all those in his squadron and regiment. He was a role model to all that knew him. Sapper Blanchard will be sorely missed, but always remembered, by all ranks in 101 Engineer Regiment (EOD)”. Lt Colonel Mark Budden, CO, 101 Engineer Regiment (EOD)
“A thoroughly lovely, thoughtful man who will be sorely missed by all. Cruelly and tragically taken from us, my thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends”. Captain Andy Abbott, Team Commander & Bomb Disposal Officer, 221 Field Sqn (EOD) (V)
“An outstanding soldier of the highest calibre. He was respected by everyone that knew him because he was professional in every aspect. He will be truly missed by all that came to know him, no matter how short that time was. Quis Separabit”. Captain Tom Roach, 221 Field Sqn (EOD) (V)
“If there was something geeky you needed to know he was the man to go to. He needed to know the ins and outs of everything before he set about doing anything. Will was a straight up person, more of an officer type, he was one of life’s genuine people. I learned this over the year or so that I knew Will, and in the last six months I have spent more time and gone out for more meals with him than with my wife. Dearly missed by myself and everyone who he had touched in his life”. Lance Corporal Michael Rix, friend and follow EOD operator, 221 Field Sqn (EOD) (V)
Those who knew Will well will know he always liked to pack a lot into his life and couldn’t keep still for long. He liked to be outdoors, going running, out on his motorbike, walking/hiking, cycling (tandem or his mountain bike) and was usually up for the maddest or most extreme challenge he could find. Following Will’s love of outdoor activities, in 2011 a group of family and friends began raising money for Help for Heroes (one of Will’s favourite charities), going under the name of Wilburforce. Wilburforce have so far raised around £25,000 doing various events including, The National 3 Peaks Challenge, The Great South Run, Abseiling, Tandem skydives, Garden Party, Yorkshire 3 Peaks and Nightrider.
In January 2013 the family were told that a road in a new housing development in Gosport was to be named in memory of Will. The road is to be named Blanchard Avenue and as a family we were very touched by this gesture.
Missed very much by all who knew him, we treasure our memories of Will during his all too short life.
Time passes, but memories stay, loved and remembered everyday, always in our hearts.