On 19 March 1938, Couraud joined the French Foreign Legion. After training, on the 3rd March, 1940, he was assigned to the 5th Company of the 13th Brigade. With this unit he took part in the Battles of Narvik. He returned to France and tried to evade to England. But Couraud was captured and imprisoned in August 1940 and in December 1940 released by the Vichy government. On release, Couraud joined the new French economy by becoming a gangster, arranging importation, trading, distribution and export of illegal goods and people. In April 1941 Couraud crossed the Pyrenees with the aim of reporting to the British Consulate in Barcelona. Arrested at Madrid railway station, he was interned for four months in Miranda. Meanwhile, due to criminal activity and associated smuggling of people, he was sentenced by a military court in Marseille to 10 years in prison. On arrival in England on 12 October 1941, Courard joined the Free French Forces. He was immediately assigned to the French intelligence service. After specialist training, in December 1941, Couraud was commissioned as second-Lieutenant Jack William Raymond Lee. After his SOE training he took part in the raid on St. Nazaire. Couraud escaped, but was wounded in both legs. He recovered in Falmouth Hospital from April to July 1942.
Couraud returned to operations with SOE in August 1942, with a beach raid near Cannes. In November 1942, in an operation near Narbonne, he was forced to neutralise three Vichy policeman. Escaping through the Pyrennes, he made his way to Barcelona, and then onwards to Lisbon, Portugal for return to England.
Returning to France in January 1943, he is asked to join the SAS and undertakes various raids into occupied Europe and North Africa from Algeria. In March 1943, a Franch SAS Squadron is formed and placed under command of Couraud who gets promoted to Captain. The unit takes part in Operation Slapstick. In July 1944, after he and his unit were dropped to assasiate Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, they found out that a Hawker Typhoon strafed him and his car after which he was hospitalized, so the unit withdrew to Allied lines. After Operation Gaff, Couraud was assigned as second in command of 2 SAS under Roy Farran. Split into two teams starting from Orléans and Rennes, the teams met up near Langres, where they built an SAS field operations base.
Returning to England in September 1944, with the liberation of France, Couraud left the British Army in December 1944. He returned to France to became part of the French Army General Staff.
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