Poignant ceremony marks sacrifices of two Gosport soldiers

A short service was conducted to mark that two names have been added to the Holy Trinity Church Memorial in Gosport for Neil Grose who died in the Falklands and Will Blanchard who died in Afganistan. The names being unveiled by Derek 'Smokey' Cole.''Picture: Paul Jacobs (142067-2) PPP-141007-165006001
A short service was conducted to mark that two names have been added to the Holy Trinity Church Memorial in Gosport for Neil Grose who died in the Falklands and Will Blanchard who died in Afganistan. The names being unveiled by Derek 'Smokey' Cole.''Picture: Paul Jacobs (142067-2) PPP-141007-165006001
A Royal Navy shot of a helicopter winching exercise

Navy aircrewman hits milestone on city ship

0
Have your say

They died 28 years apart, but now two soldiers have been united by their sacrifice as their names are added to a town’s war memorial.

Sapper William Blanchard and Private Neil Grose have had their names added to the stone outside the Holy Trinity Church in Gosport.

Sapper Blanchard died in Afghanistan in 2010 and Private Grose was killed in the Falklands in 1982, a day after his 18th birthday.

Families, friends and former colleagues of the two soldiers gathered at the stone yesterday for a short service to mark the addition of their names.

Sapper Blanchard’s widow, Sue Blanchard, 42, of Albemarle Avenue in Gosport, said: ‘It was a really nice gesture.

‘I didn’t expect so many people to turn up and it was such a lovely service.’

Soldiers from Sapper Blanchard’s unit — the 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment turned up for the service, along with a Royal Navy bugler and paratroopers from the 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment, which Private Grose belonged to.

The service was conducted by the Rev Andy Davis yesterday morning.

David Grose, 76, of Eastfield Road in Fareham, is Private Grose’s father.

He said: ‘It is super to see his name added to the memorial and something I did not expect.

‘It’s a really nice touch for it to be here on a memorial in Gosport.

‘It was great to see so many people come along for the service, there were lots of people here and that was a very nice thing of them to do.’

The mayor of Gosport, Councillor Wayne Ronayne, welcomed everybody to the service.

Once the names were unveiled, family members and colleagues of the two men laid wreaths and wooden crosses at the base of the memorial stone.

SAPPER WILLIAM BLANCHARD

William was killed in Afghanistan on October 30, 2010, after his team came under fire while attempting to clear a suspect explosive device.

He was born in Swaziland in November 1970 and came to the south coast of England when he attended Southampton University.

In 2002, William began work in Gosport as a radiation protection advisor and joined the Territorial Army in 2007.

He was described by colleagues as a brave and selfless soldier who acted as an inspiration to younger comrades.

In January 2013, a road was named after William in the new Alver Village housing development in Gosport.

PRIVATE NEIL GROSE

Neil died in the Falklands Conflict in 1982, just a day after his 18th birthday.

He came to Gosport when he was eight years old, having been born in Bedfordshire.

As a soldier, he was described as calm and measured in all that he did and with a talent for leadership, motivating and inspiring his fellow soldiers, who trusted his actions and decisions implicitly.

The paratrooper was shot dead on June 11, 1982, as troops mounted a push on Mount Longdon near Port Stanley.

A tree was planted in the grounds of his former school, at St Vincent College.