Messe took in 1901 voluntary service in the army of the Kingdom of Italy. As a non-commissioned officer , he fought near Tripoli during the Italian-Turkish war. In 1915 he was promoted to Captain and he returned to Italy, where he participated in the fight to the Italian front. After the first world war took the career of Messe a bird's-eye view: in 1923, he became aide-de-camp to field of King Victor Emmanuel III, in 1927 he became Colonel and Brigadier Generalin 1935, he was. In the same year he made a successful contribution to the conquest of Ethiopia, which he earned the rank of major general .
Messe had during the Greco-Italian war (1940-1941) in charge of an Army Corps with which he some successes against the Greek Commander Alexandros Papagos.However, the war turned for Italy on a fiasco and only after the intervention of Greece could be defeated nazi Germany .
In the summer of 1941, Messe commanding the Corpo di Spedizione Italiano in Russia, the Italian armed forces who took part in Operation Barbarossa, the German attack on the Soviet Union. A year later, Italo Gariboldireplaced Messe. By that time there about 200,000 Italians fought at the Eastern front.
In February 1943, Messe was stationed in Tunisia where he received the 1st Italian army that was part of the Heeresgruppe Africa led by Erwin Rommel. He was also Governor of the colony, however, already largely Italian-Libya which was conquered by the allies. On 12 may, he was still by Benito Mussolini promoted to Field Marshal of Italy, but he could no longer avoid the last troops of the Axis powers in North Africa had to give itself the next day about. Messe was then captured by the allies. After the armistice between Italy and the allies in september 1943, he was released. Like many other royalist officers, he joined the Italian troops who until the end of the war together with the allies against nazi Germany fought.
After 45 years of service In 1946 went Messe retired. In the following years he wrote a book about the Italian battle on the eastern front during the second World War (La Guerra al Fronte Russo) and a book on the fightCome finì la guerra (in Tunisia in Africa. La "Prima Armata" italiana in Tunisia). He was senator in 1953 on behalf of the monarchist Partito Democratico Italiano di Unità Monarchica. In addition, he would be President until his death of the Italian veterans organization. Messe died in 1968 at the age of 85.