Leonard Herbert Messer was the son of Herbert and Charlotte Messer, of Brislington, Bristol.
He served in The Royal West Kent Regiment prior to volunteering for airborne forces while deployed in the Middle East and subsequently joined B Company, 10th Parachute Battalion, which formed part of 4th Parachute Brigade.
His battalion took part in the amphibious landings at Taranto in Italy, September 1943, and advanced northwards by way of Palagiano to Castellaneta.
After an attack on German forces occupying Castellaneta, 4th Parachute Brigade was assigned the task of securing Gioia del Colle and its airfield, in order to provide a fighter base that could cover the Salerno landings.
B Coy, 10th Para Bn, was ordered to mount a fighting patrol, which moved into Gioia del Colle on dawn of 16 September 1943, resulting in a five hour battle, after which B Coy returned to the battalion area. Several casualties resulted from the fighting, including L/Cpl Messer.
The aggressive nature of the fighting patrol resulted in the Germans withdrawing from Gioia de Colle on the night of 16/17 September.
L/Cpl Leonard Messer died on 16 September 1943, aged 28 years, and was initially provided a field burial at Gioia. He was later reburied at Bari War Cemetery on 12 May 1944.
Headstone photograph courtesy of Bob Hilton.
Compiled by Harvey Grenville and Bob HiltonRead More