Martina Devlin: The human toll behind grim savagery of war
Published 04/11/2010 | 05:00
A MEMBER of my wider family was shot dead in Afghanistan a few days ago, just six weeks into his first overseas tour of duty. He was part of a bomb-disposal unit, and was picked off at the scene of a suspect device.
William Blanchard was my brother-in-law's brother, an understated, gentlemanly Englishman. I always struggled to picture this well-educated, soft-spoken individual -- born in Swaziland, where his father worked as a missionary and biology teacher -- in military fatigues, but he had a taste for the outdoors and longed for adventure.
In a previous age, he might have become an explorer. Instead, he worked as a radiation protection officer and later joined the Territorial Army, Britain's part-time reserve force.