A pupil of the Naval Health School (class of 1935), he was assigned to French Equatorial Africa in 1937, as a lieutenant doctor in the Senegalese Tirailleurs Regiment du Tchad (RTST) in Faya Largeau (Chad).
From the first hour, alongside the general doctor Sicé, he chose free France and actively participated in the rallying of Chad and the Middle Congo at the end of August 1940.
Promoted to doctor captain on September 25, 1940, he volunteered to serve in the 1st March Battalion (BM 1) which was formed in Brazzaville in October 1940 under the orders of the battalion commander Delange from elements of the RTST destined before the armistice to serve in metropolitan France.
Jean Coupigny heads the medical service during the Gabon campaign. During these operations in southern Gabon, in October and November 1940, he distinguished himself by his dedication, providing his care in difficult conditions.
The BM1 is then regrouped after a long journey in Palestine before participating in the campaign in Syria. Doctor Captain Coupigny was wounded by shrapnel the day after the offensive, June 9, 1941.
In October 1941, the day after the fighting in Syria, BM 1 split to form BM 11. Jean Coupigny remained attached to BM 1 which was sent back to Chad to serve in Colonne Leclerc.
As such, he took part in the 2nd Fezzan campaign and in the operations in Tripolitania (December 1942 - February 1943). During the campaign in Tunisia (February-May 1943) he had to face an epidemic of relapsing fever which affected civilians and soldiers. In difficult conditions, he constantly demonstrates the finest qualities of courage and self-sacrifice.
After serving in the Light Surgical Ambulance of the 1st Free French Division, Jean Coupigny took part in the Italian campaign where, during a bombing in July 1944, he operated on a wounded abdomen, standing, in an operating tent riddled with shrapnel. He only agreed to operate on his knees on the order of the head doctor, the injured being on the ground. He succeeds in saving his patient.
Still with the 1st DFL, he landed in Provence in August 1944 and took part in all the campaigns of his unit: Rhône valley, Vosges, Alsace and the Authion massif (Alpes-Maritimes).
In May 1945, during the Battle of the Alps, he perfectly managed the advanced surgical branch of Sospel. In conditions made difficult and perilous by the large influx of wounded and the bombardment of the ambulance by enemy artillery, it operated day and night with serious first-aid injuries and thus saved many human lives.
After the war, the doctor commanding Coupigny moved to the Congo and became the CEO of the Clinique-Océan de Pointe Noire.
A reserve lieutenant-colonel doctor, he was also a senator for the Middle Congo between 1948 and 1956.
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