Hilaire Colcombet was born on January 7, 1916, at Ambérieu-en-Bugey. He was the heir of a family of industrialists.
When World War II broke out, he fought as an officer in the 20th GRDI (Groupe de Reconnaissance de Division d’Infanterie), a unit derived from the 9th Armoured Division, during the French Campaign, from May to June 1940. His courageous attitude at the front made him to be awarded several decorations.
Demobilized after the armistice, Hilaire Colcombet refused to concede defeat and wanted to continue fighting. Thus he entered the Resistance by joining the SR Air network. In November 1942, following the occupation by German troops of the south of France he decided to go to England, passing through Spain. Betrayed by some unscrupulous watermen, he was apprehended by Spanish authorities and thrown into prison. He escaped, passed through Gibraltar, and finally entered London, where he joined the Free French Forces in June, 1943.
He was transferred to Camberley, where Free France SAS paratroopers were garrisoned. These troops were divided into two regiments (3rd and 4th), both of which were integrated into the Special Air Service Brigade commanded by General Roddy MacLeod.
Lieutenant in the 3rd SAS, commanded by Battalion Commander Château-Jobert, aka Conan, Hilaire Colcombet was dropped at Saône-et-Loire in August 1944 within the framework of the Harrod-Barker mission, which was the greatest the British entrusted to French paratroopers considering the means deployed and the results obtained.
“Dropped with three sticks in the Cluny region, he carried out ambushes along nationale 6, which, thanks to SAS top techniques, were considered as the most successful and deadliest” wrote the France-Libre.net site on Lieutenant Colcombet.
After the war, Hilaire Colcombet quit the military and returned to his manufacturing business. He reopened the Bucol-Colcombet company, which, specialized in silk goods, became famous in the world in designer clothing.
It was Figaro issue of the 24 April that that Hilaire Colcombet death was announced. He died on April 22, 2012, at the age of 96. He was one of the last SAS parachute officers of Free France.
This outstanding volunteer serviceman was Commander of the Legion of Honour; holder of several commendations including a good number in the army order for his battle exploits and acts of courage which earned him, among other decorations, the war cross with distinction.