British soldier killed in Afghanistan named by MoD

Image caption,
Sapper William Blanchard had deployed to Afghanistan in September

A British soldier shot dead in Afghanistan's Helmand province has been named by the Ministry of Defence.

Sapper William Blanchard, of 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment, was killed in the Nahr-e Saraj North area in southern Afghanistan on Saturday.

Sapper Blanchard, 39, from Gosport in Hampshire, was part of the Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Task Force.

A total of 342 British personnel have died in Afghanistan since operations began in 2001.

Sapper Blanchard, who had deployed to Afghanistan in September, was shot while trying to destroy an explosive device.

'Consummate professional'

Lt Col Mark Davis, commanding officer Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Task Force, said: "Sapper Blanchard was a father figure to the younger elements of the squadron.

"He was always concerned with their development and welfare, always displaying an interest in what they were doing and always keeping them informed - he was the consummate professional and it was not for nothing that he was known as 'The Colonel'.

Sapper Blanchard leaves a wife and two children.

His wife Suzanne 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."

Defence Secretary Liam Fox said he was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Sapper Blanchard.

"We owe him a great debt of gratitude for his commitment to the security of our country as a TA Reservist and, in particular, for his contribution to the work of 101 Engineer Regiment during their deployment," he said.

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