The Airmen's Stories - Adj. Y J Briere
Yves Désiré Jean Georges Paul Briere was born on 12th August 1919 in
Loroux Bottereau, Nantes. His parents were Désiré-Joseph Brière and Emily Briere (nee d'Ardier).
He enlisted as Yves Jean Briere and obtained his civil pilots licence in 1936, going on to join the l'Armee de l'Air as a pupil-pilot at Istres in June 1938.
His training was accelerated by the outbreak of war and he passed through the flying schools at Chateauroux and Avord. In January 1940 he was posted to GC II/9 at Oran, operating MS406 aircraft, and he was still there when the Armistice was signed in June 1940.
Defying orders to stay put in Oran, he made his way to Casablanca, along with other French airmen who would later fly in the Battle, and stowed away on a cargo ship, the Oak Crest, which had been chartered by the British to carry Polish troops to Britain. After a stop at Gibraltar they landed at Greenock, Glasgow on 17th July 1940.
He was sent with other French airmen to RAF St. Athan for assessment, this resulted in Briere and ten others being posted to No.1 School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum on 29th July.
A week's flying at Odiham followed on 10th August where he flew Tiger Moths and Hectors. On the 18th he went to 5 OTU Aston Down and, after converting to Hurricanes, he joined 232 Squadron at Castletown, Scotland on 14th September. In late December he was posted to 615 Squadron at Kenley.
On 13th May 1941 615 Squadron was based at Valley on the Isle of Anglesey. Briere and his French colleague Rene Mouchotte were detailed to fly a convoy patrol. At 2500 feet, Briere’s Hurricane V6551 suffered engine failure. He chose not to bail out and managed to make a good landing on the sea.
Mouchotte orbited the spot until his fuel ran low but a subsequent search only found Briere’s lifejacket.