Over 50 players from Leicester Fosse Football Club fought in the First World War. They served in a variety of regiments, including the famous Footballers’ Battalion. Four players were decorated during the conflict. Twelve more were killed in action.
A thirteenth player died in a Prisoner of War camp. Two more died after surviving the war, one of Spanish flu, and the other of tuberculosis. The medals illustrated here were posthumously awarded to a Leicester Fosse player called Robert Messer, who was killed in action on 16 October, 1918 near Ypres.
They are the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Robert’s name, rank and number are engraved on the outside edge of the medals. They were acquired by the Club at auction and are on display in the reception area at King Power Stadium.
This is the only known photograph of former Leicester Fosse player Robert Messer.
Robert, an outside-right, was described at the time as ‘a fine wing player who is very fast and centres well’.
He appeared twice for the Club in the 1910/11 season, against Clapton Orient and Huddersfield Town. The only picture we have of Robert in the Club’s archives appeared in a Leicester Fosse publication in 1910.
During the First World War, Edinburgh-born Robert became a private in the 6th Battalion of The King’s Own Scottish Borderers. Ten days after Robert’s death, his battalion was removed from the front line. Sixteen days after that, the war ended.
Robert’s body was never found. He is one of over 35,000 names recorded on the Portland Stone panels which extend for 150 metres around part of the perimeter of the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing, near Ypres.
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