Engaged on September 24, 1914 with the 1st Spahis in Medeah, he soon passed as sergeant to the 6th Senegalese Tirailleurs Battalion in Blidah with which he began the war against Germany. Two citations were awarded to him in October 1916 and April 1917.
Appointed second lieutenant in March 1918, he was cited twice in June and October of the same year.
The war ended, Jean Colonna d'Ornano left for Syria where he distinguished himself again. Then his career continued in Senegal, Mauritania, the Sahara, Sudan, where he proved to be an excellent administrator.
From 1932 to 1936, he served in Morocco, officer of indigenous affairs and above all, commander of a "harka" of partisans to whom he imposed himself by his physical vigor, by his verb, by his going and also, by his magnificent dress. fire.
In March 1938, head of battalion, the command of the circle of Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti is entrusted to him. It was therefore in equatorial Africa that the war surprised him.
On May 6, 1940, long before Italy entered the war, he received the announcement of the irruption of an Italian motorized column in the French zone.
The Italians confirm their claims on the French possessions in Africa, raising the anger of the executives of the colonial army. Also, from the armistice of June 1940, the commander of Ornano joined Free France, bringing with him many officers and soldiers who, for a long time, gave him their confidence and their esteem. On August 18, 1940 he "deserted" and joined Colonel de Larminat in Léopoldville before reaching Fort-Lamy with René Pleven and taking part in the rallying of Chad to Free France on August 26.
Promoted lieutenant-colonel, Jean Colonna d'Ornano becomes, in Fort-Lamy, the deputy of Colonel Marchand who commands the Senegalese Tirailleurs Regiment of Chad (RTST).
In December 1940, coming from Cameroon, Colonel Leclerc went to Chad on the order of General de Gaulle as military commander of the territories of Chad and to bring the war to Libya. Immediately, Lieutenant-Colonel Colonna d'Ornano brought Colonel Leclerc, for the preparation of this offensive, his full support and, above all, all his experience as a wise Saharan.
From January 2, 1941, he gave his instructions for the attack on Mourzouk. Colonna d'Ornano claims and obtains the honor of being the first to attack the Italian enemy. It was during this fight that Jean Colonna d'Ornano found a glorious end on January 11, 1941.
His body was to rest in Mourzouk until the departure of the French troops. Her remains were first brought back to Algiers (December 10, 1956) then from there to Corsica where she arrived on December 20, 1956, aboard the Guichen escort, to be buried in Ajaccio.
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