Giovanni Messe

Italien, 1883-1968

Italeisnk feltmarskal. Chef for 1. italienske armé i Nordafrika.

Giovanni Messe was born near Brindisi on December 10, 1883. He fought in WW1, the colonies and against Ethiopia. He was Deputy Commander of the forces occupying Albania in 1939 and commanded a Corps in the Greek campaign.
In 1941, he became commander of the CSIR (Corpo di Spedizione Italiano in Russia) and fought with distinction on the Eastern front until 1943. When Rommel moved up to command Heeresgruppe Afrika in March of that year, Messe succeeded him as commander of Panzerarmee Afrika, now renamed the first Italian Army.

By this time, the Desert War was completely lost to the Axis forces and Messe had little options available. After managing to accomplish a few tactical victories over the Allies, he was promoted Marshal on May 12, 1943 and joined the Germans in surrendering to the British a day later.

Giovanni Messe was chief of staff of the Royal Italian Army from 1943 to 1945. After the war, he was Senator from 1953-1955, but then retired to private life and wrote on his experiences. He was president of the Italian Veterans association and died in Rome on December 19, 1968.