FRIENDS and colleagues of Sapper William Blanchard have given harrowing accounts of his final day at an inquest into the army reservist’s death.
Sapper Blanchard, from Gosport, was shot as he prepared to remove a roadside bomb in the Nahr-e Saraj North region of Afghanistan on October 30 last year.
Family packed the court room in Portsmouth to hear the inquest.
The court heard how the 40-year-old and his colleague Lance Corporal Tony Field were called to remove an improvised explosive device (IED) after a solider had stood on it and it failed to explode.
L/Cpl Fields was right next to Sapper Blanchard and said: ‘I heard this crack and a whizz and a thud.
‘As I turned to my left to look at Will, he was falling back.’
Despite the efforts of everyone at the scene, and a rapid withdrawal by Chinook helicopter to the hospital at Camp Bastian, Sapper Blanchard was declared dead at 1.26pm.
Coroner David Horsley recorded a verdict of unlawful killing.
Addressing the family, he said: ‘I think you can be especially proud of William for the rest of your lives.