Jean Compagnon was born on October 26, 1916, at Saint-Germain en Laye.
He attended Saint-Cyr between 1934 and 1936, he chose the cavalry and served in the 4th Hussar unit, within which he participated in the May-June 1940 battles, on horseback and on bikes.
Within the Foreign Legion, he participated in the Tunisian campaign when the French African army, led by the Foreign Legion, resumed fighting. The young officer, commander of the cavalry squad of the 1st Foreign Calvary Regiment at Fès, becoming leader of the armoured car squad in Tunisia, showed, once more, the adaptation capacity of the Foreign Legion, as rapidly as the battle was close. This resumption of fighting was harsh though glorious. Worth mentioning among the battles are: the attack, on January 19, 1943, of 17 German tanks, including the first “Tiger”, which appeared at the front, and was stopped by the legionnaires; among whom was Lieutenant Compagnon.
After having fought at Lorraine, Jean Compagnon was transferred to General Leclerc’s headquarters, in January 1944, within which he participated in the Normandy battle and in the Liberation of Paris.
He distinguished himself during the Liberation battles as officer in the 2nd Armoured Division, in the 2nd AD headquarters, and later on in the 12th Armoured Division and in the 501st RCC. After the breakthrough towards the Vosges, in November 1944, he became the commander of a tank squadron of the 12th Armoured Division. His tanks were the first to enter Strasbourg and fight in front of the Kehl Bridge on November 23, 1944. Wounded at Alsace, in January 1945, convalescent, he retook the command of the 3rd tank company of the 501st RCC on April 23, 1945, within which he ended the war by fighting, on May 4, 1945, the last battle of the 2nd AD at Inzell in front of Berchtesgaden.
After the war, he served in Indochina and Algeria. He was appointed commanding officer of the 1st RHP and commanded the 11th Parachute Division. He ended his career as major in the 3rd RM from 1973 to 1976.
After he left the active service, in 1976, he started the career of columnist and historian. He is the author of a biography of Leclerc which references, "Leclerc, maréchal de France", and several works on the Normandy Landing.
From 1994 to 1995, during the commemoration of the golden jubilee of the Liberation of France, he wrote articles, organized conferences and participated in several radio and television programmes on the Normandy battle and the Liberation of Paris and Strasbourg.
In 2006, he published his testament book "Ce en quoi je crois".
On Thursday November 4, 2010, this outstanding officer, with an glorious profile, passed on to meet his arms buddies who had gone earlier. His funeral took place on Wednesday, November 10, 2010, at the St Louis Cathedral of Disabled Persons, Paris.
Commended 11 times, including 6 in the army order, wounded four times, General Compagnon was holder of the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit, Second World War cross, Overseas Operations cross, and the Military Valour cross. He was equally decorated as Knight for his services to education, held an aeronautics medal, among a host of other awards.