Major Michael J Briody MBE

Michael J Briody originally joined the Irish Guards in 1933, and had risen to become a Platoon Sergeant in 1st Battalion Irish Guards when deployed to Norway during 1940. He later became a Company Sergeant Major of the Irish Guards before beginning his Airborne career as Regimental Sergeant Major training new pilots.

Briody was one of the legendary Guards Division Company Sergeant Majors responsible for the basic training of the Glider Pilot Regiment.  He along with CSM Cowley (Coldstream Guards) were given the task of overseeing initial phase of the creation of the 'Total Soldier' Glider Pilot. A goal set by Lieutenant Colonel George Chatterton the newly appointed CO of the Glider Pilot Regiment. This basic training took place under Spartan conditions at the Glider Pilot Regimental Depot at Fargo Camp near Tilshead on Salisbury Plain.

Briody then went on to undergo flying training himself and was awarded his wings in time to fly on Operation Market Garden as part of HQ 2nd Wing. He was programmed to fly a Horsa glider taking off from RAF Blakehill Farm. Originally allocated Chalk Number 185 (with Co-pilot was SSgt Marshall) in the First Lift, his tow rope broke shortly after takeoff and he was forced to make an emergency landing near Braintree in Essex.  Both pilots and the complete load were recovered to their home airfield in USAF B26 Marauder bombers.  He was more successful at the second attempt - landing 17 Pln, C Coy, 1 Bn Border Regt on 18 Sept 44 as part of the second lift (LZ 'S').

During the Battle he was noted for his devotion to duty during the Battle and determined to stay with his unit even after being injured by a Mortar splinter, before finally escaping with the remnants of his Wing across the Rhine. After the Battle he was awarded the Dutch Bronze Lion (see citation) for his bravery during this action.

He also received an MBE in October 1945, saw service in Palestine and went on to earn his commission as a Lieutenant.

He transferred to the Royal Army Service Corps in 1947, serving with Air Supply units including 63 Coy RASC. In 1952 he transferred to the Royal Army Pay Corps (RAPC) as a Captain. He became a Paymaster at Depot The Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces in 1955. He was later promoted to Major and continued to serve at Depot Para until 1971.

Further reading

Mike Peters & Luuk Buist, Glider Pilots at Arnhem (2009), Pen and Sword.

Profile compiled with assistance from Lilian Mann and Mike Peters

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Michael J Briody

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