Pierre Messmer (pyĕr mĕsmā´), 1916–, French political leader. In World War II he fought with the Free French forces before joining General de Gaulle's staff. After the war, he held several overseas posts. A devoted supporter of de Gaulle, he served (1960–69) as minister of defense until de Gaulle's resignation as president. In 1971 he became minister of overseas departments and territories. In 1972, President Pompidou appointed him to replace Jacques Chaban-Delmas as premier. He was succeeded in 1974 by Jacques Chirac, but continued as member of the national assembly until 1988.