German field post in the
District of Valenciennes 1914-1918.
dealing with the field post it is necessary to tell about the events
that the District of Valenciennes knew from 1914 to 1918.
Aug 3rd: the war was declared.
The Germans invaded Belgium despite its neutrality and got closer from
the French border. The French army was sent to the border and
Valenciennes was left with very few reservists sometimes unarmed. When
it became obvious that the Germans was getting closer the border too
quickly, other French and English troops better prepared were sent in
the District.These troops had to enforce the border and also to enter
Aug 23rd: The first German soldiers (1st Army) entered France in the
neighbourhood of Condé sur l'Escaut and a few border
occured in the North of the District.
Aug 25th: The Germans entered Valenciennes after 20 days of victorious
combats. The were astonished to find very few french soldiers but also
a big amount of military goods in the barraks of the towns. The Station
and the railways were not destroyed. The local authorities didn't know
about this goods which could be necessary for the civilians during the
war if the could have been taken off the German hands.
End of August and beginning of September 1914: The District was not
completely occupied and was the area of some combats here or there.The
Germans were not numerous enough and numerous little French units are
trying to join their lines.
Sept 7th: Fall of the fortress of Maubeuge. 40.000 Germans superiorly
armed took more than 40.000 French prisoners. Maubeuge was an
obsolete fortress and the French High Command never saw the possibily
that the German army could invade Northern France.
is sure that the 10 days of resistance of Maubeuge allowed
French to stop the German on the Marne.
In the half of September, the District was entiretly occupied for 4
years of war.
The armistice with Russia in the end of 1917, allowed the Germans to
withdraw troops from this operations theatre to the western
front.However, these troops were not the better and were not prepared
the combat methods of the western front. Moreover, some units are
already contaminate by the Russian revolutionary ideal.
The year 1918 and the big spring offensive could make believe the
to a decisive victory. But in June 1918, the German armies were
exhausted and they had lost 800.000 men in combats.
"Entente" offensives which followed didn't end since the armistice.
Since July 1918, the counter-offensives of the "Entente" armies made
slowly the Germans going back to Belgium passing by the District of
Valenciennes. The morale of these troops was very low and made the
French civilians hope that the end was near. The first
communities of the District were liberated by English-Canadian troops
in the end of October 1918. Before, the Germans had evacuated the
population to Valenciennes and then to Belgium. The open
having started again, the Germans move back inexorably. They
nevertheless hope to stop the allies on the Hermann line
key position, VALENCIENNES, was protected by the Schelde and the
of the Mount Houy. Furthermore, the presence of very numerous refugees
of the other cities made impossible the direct bombardment of the city.
The investment of the city was very well prepared by the
English-Canadian. The "Mont Houy" was taken in a single assault.
November 3rd 1918: VALENCIENNES was liberated by the Canadian forces.
The District of VALENCIENNES was occupied successively and/or
collectively by 5 German armies, the 1st (in the end of August, 1914 -
in the middle of October, 1914), the 6th (at the middle of October
1914-30/09/1916), the 1st (October 1st 1916-20th, 1917), the
2nd (April 20th September 1917- September 3rd, 1918) and finally the
17th (September 3rd 1918-November 3rd, 1918). The 17th army came from
Russian front. Indeed, the armistice with the Bolsheviks had allowed
Germany to repatriate a big part of the troops of this front towards
France. The 17th army settled its headquarters to ST AMAND LES EAUX on
1st, 1918. It occupied effectively VALENCIENNES from September, 1918.
The occupied French territories were militarily controlled and
administered. The requisitions were frequently authorized and practised
there. On the contrary, on the other side of the border, occupied
Belgium was administered by a General Government with Belgian civil
servants under German control. This General Government gave
compensations to Germany, he could not thus be the object of
In Valenciennes, few factories worked, most were dismantled and often
only coal mines still worked. The coal left for Germany. All which had
some value (militarily or financially) was requisitioned. For 4 years,
the population known a real hell, the only concern was to satisfy with
big difficulties primary needs as to feed.
|Parade for the birthday of Kaiser
Wilhelm II in 1916 in front of the Town Hall of Valenciennes.
of the 125th Infantry Regiment (26th Infantry
). From 1st until 11th May 1917,
was resting in Valenciennes. It participed in 2 parades:
6th May in front of the General of the Division and the 9th
in front of Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria
all the of the war, the District was a part of the
Lines-of-communication area (Etappengebiet) behind the
front and before the area of the General Government in Belgium
the German territory.
The Etappen area was a zone where
troops , ammunitions, equipment, supplies
pursuit of the fight were in transit.
German troops were thus in a relative safety there, in spite of
frequent air bombardments from the allies. These raids aimed
essentially at the military installations (airfields, stations,
storehouses, factories of ammunitions). The precision of these air
bombardments was quite relative and it was not rare that civilians were
victims of these.
|Air raid upon Valenciennes
Air raid that destroyed railways and also 16 wagons of amunition.
army had its Etappen area. This area was managed by a
Lines-of-communication Inspectorate (Etappeninspektion). This one was
in charge of coordinating the circulation of troops and equipment on
its territory, but also and especially of maintaining the
communications. It was also in charge of the economic
and to get back the financial contributions asked the municipalities
in occupied territories for the life of the troops. Finally, the Etappen-Inspection
took care of maintains of the military and civil
order in its zone. Valenciennes was the central town of the
Lines-of-communication (Etappenhauptort) of 3 Armies.
central town of the Lines-of-communication was the seat of the Etappen-Inspection of
these 3 armies; the 6th,
the 1st and the 2nd. At the middle of September, 1918, it was not
possible to settle the Etappen-Inspection of
the 17th army in Valenciennes, because the front was too
|Offices of the
Lines-of-communication warehous of the 6th Army located in
the Croix d'Anzin.
we should not confuse central town of the Etappen-Inspection and the
seat of the military High command. As
example, and during the period of the 6th Army, the central town of the
Lines-of-communication Inspectorate was Valenciennes while
High command was in Lille.
The German field post.
Military Staffs knew
well the importance of the mail for the soldiers. These last ones had a
better morale if they had news of the Mother country. We can consider
at more than 28 billions the number of mail objects having passed in
transit by the German field post during 4 years of
modern meansof communication for the time as the
telegraph or the telephone
were little accessible to the privates and their family. Most of the
time the mail exchanges concerned, letters and postcards, parcel and
the money transfer. The Post Office granted the mail franchising for
the most part of the types of soldiers mails and very small
expenses for money transfers.
At the beginning of the war:
field post was organized in anticipation of a new conflict with
France. Her experience of the 1870/71 war had allowed to improve the
service, however not enough with regard to the enormous upheavals which
the 1st world conflict was going to provoke. The field post was
certainly prepared for open warfare, but not in such a measure and on
so long distances. At the beginning of the conflict, the field post
knows big difficulties for the routing of the mail. Her own means of
transportation (mostly horse-drawn) even planned for a long time show
themselves insufficient in number and in quality.
moreover not rare when the German troops enter Belgium,
the field post requisitionned farm horse wagons and horses
were better adapted to the distances and to the nature of grounds. The
postal cars exist, but in small number and were very badly prepared for
the long distances on roads often damaged by the passage of the troops
and the heavy artillery.
field post obviously
used the rail links, but was not priority and so
after troop and ammunitions transportations.
Furthermore, troops moved so quickly that it did not still
know where they were and
so it could not make follow the mail bags.
the civil post office and the field post had expected in no way
such an influx of mail and parcel which passed in transit in both
factors made that big masses of mail and parcels in
for the front or in the front for
only at the end of 1914, that the system begins to be set up and
to work well. The position war facilitated largely the work of
the field post.
The system works well on all the fronts. The field post got
organized and was set up. The rules of field post made more rigorous on
the manner of writing to the front, because often the addresses were
very vague and obliged the field post to long searches. The rules also
concerned the contents of mails and parcels.
could find everything in parcel sent by the family
the soldiers. The perishable foodstuffs and other matches
or flammable liquids sent by families could damage all or any
the load of a postal car. Also, ammunitions sent as spoils of war
by soldiers to their family could show themselves very
hard to manage for the post office (civil and military), was the
shortage of staff. Indeed, the staff of civil post office
fit for military service was either affected in the field post or in
fighting units. In Germany, it was thus necessary to replace these
civil servants by subsidiary personnel (male and female) whom
was necessary to form and who did not still give good results. In the
field post offices, the capable staff could also be allocated to
fighting units. It was there also necessary to use
who did not have the return on an experimented civil servant too.
Furthermore, the German Army created new divisions which had each a
post office. It was thus necessary to move experienced staff
towards these new offices.
Things were getting complicated again from the end of 1917, because of
shortages in any kinds (spare parts and fuel for automobiles, fat and
coals for trains) as well as the preparations for the big spring
offensives in summer 1918 bother considerably the mail service. The
existing means were essentially turned to the needs of the Army.
Germany misses everything and all the administrations suffer. The
offensives of 1918 were nevertheless well prepared in a postal point of
vew, because it was necessary to put back the service in a dynamics of
open warfare. Furthermore, where attacks were going to occur,
ground and infrastructures were destroyed by several years of
fights by German or by the allies. The attack on
the "Ladies way" to Reims is a striking example. When the attack begins
May 27th, it is in a desolate area that poured the streams of German
In spring and in summer, 1918, the field post managed to provide the
troops without big difficulties. What bothered most, was the lack of
railway means all intended to transportations of troops and
ammunitions. The masses of parcel sent by the soldiers to their family
were also a heavy problem. Indeed, as families missed everything in
Germany, the soldiers their sent possessions or food which they had
bought or plundered in occupied territories. In 1917-1918, the
shortages in Germany also engendered a particular deliquency both in
Germany and in the front. Indeed, it was not rare that the postal
trains were partially plundered by deserters or railroad employees or
that parcels stored in the front were diverted by soldiers
sent to their own family.
At the time of the reversal of tendency and when the offensives allies
drilled the German front, the field post was forced to retreat
the troops. The lack of means of transportation reduce considerably the
routing of mail and parcels which remained still very
From October, 1918, even the privates know what is the situation and
each tries to save that he can (food, objects, clothes, fabrics, money)
by sending it in Germany with the field post.
The days following the Armistice mark a period of
still occupied territories (essentially Belgian) which are being
evacuated. The field post didn't work any more, because the staff was
road towards Germany. The troops of the active army make retreat in
good order, the reserve troops or the occupation troops were
left to themselves.
The processing of the mail was different as it passed in transit from
the front towards Germany or conversely.
- From Germany to the front:
The mail to the servicemen was gathered in Collecting Points
(Postsammelstellen) which were in charge of sorting out the mail. The
sorting and the bagging was made by field post office. In
every unit was connected with a field post office.
These bags were then sent towards Master Points ( Leitpunkte). These
centres were located near the border but still on German territory.
There is a Master Point by Army. However, several Armies can share the
same Master Point. These centres were the only ones to
the exact positions of the units and their post office. They used a
document which included all the positions of field post offices and the
links which each unit had with these post offices. This document is
called "Overview of the field post network"
This overview was constantly updated by the informations given by field
post offices, but especially by the Staffs which were the only to
know the affectations of the units. Master
thus in charge of sorting out the cars of mail bags coming from
collecting points and to sort these bags by field post offices . When
was possible, a car could be filled with only bags intended for the
same post office. The biggest Master Point for the western
was located in warehouse close to the station of Cologne.
To there, it was the civil post office which managed the routing of the
Once this sorting was made, mail bags left by train towards
transfer points ( Postumschlagstellen) which were in Belgium
in Etappen area in the course or in the end of
the line. Every Army had several transfer points with which was
connected every units.
Brought out of the German territory, mail was taken care by
post and was subjected to the chances of the war (delay at best,
destruction in the worst).
Arrived in the transfer point, mail bags were brought back by
staff of every field post office and then delivered to the soldiers.
The senders had to write perfectly the address of the serviceman for
whom they intended the mail. Without this, it could get lost, be
delayed or returend to sender.In the addresses no place-name must be
affixed next to that of the unit of the addressee.
- From the front towards Germany:
The soldiers mail was collected within their company among
an officer (then later an examiner) examined at random
letters or postcards. The control was made on the presence of military
informations hidden or not in the mail and on the compulsory attendance
of the coordinates of the sender.
From there, the mail left towards the post office which
the unit. In trenches, one had settled mailboxes to facilitate the
collection of mail.
In the field post office, the mail was sorted out roughly, mainly by
Mail bags were then steered towards the distribution points (
Postverteilungstellen) which sorted out again the mail by Province or
State. The mail of the big cities was sorted out.
The mail of a soldier belonging to an Army towards an other one
belonging to another Army did not follow the same road.
At the beginning of the conflict, it was impossible to make pass in
transit directly a mail between 2 Armies. Mail must be previously
steered in Germany towards a collecting point (Postsammelstelle) to be
redirected towards the Army of destination. It created obviously a lot
In October, 1914, was created the field post clearing offices (
Feldausgleichstellen / Heeresbriefstellen). These offices were in
charge of collecting, sorting out and making pass in transit
mail between the Armies. These centres were mostly situated in the
Civilian mail and prisoners of war mail coming from occupied zones:
In occupied areas, no private individual's mail could circulate with
the exception of the mail intended for a prisoner of war in Germany or
in occupied territories or interned in a neutral country. Mail of
civil adminitrations as well as the economic mail were authorized.
However, they had to pass in transit by Kommandantur which sent them in
military postal Censor office of the Etappen-Inspection
(Postüberwachungstelle) which then sent them to the
post office of the Etappen-Inspection which
managed their routing.
It was the same for POW or civil prisoners who had their
families in occupied territories.
mobilization, the post offices were equipped with one circle date
stamps. Thereafter and finally also quickly, The field post offices
recieved double circle date stamps. Those ones show a date in
form of day/month/year whereas the one circle date stamps show only the
day and the month.There was however some modifications of dating block
on some of them in order to make also appear the year. The 2 types of
date stamps were used at the same time.
double circle date stamps (except Bavarian types) show also an
hour of collecting followed by V (Vormittag: morning) or N (Nachmittag:
ground, the German field post was organized with 3 types of post
offices.Each one had a differently made out date stamp.
- Post offices of the Army Corps: Feldpostämter
These post offices deal with the mail of the Army Corps. They were
managed by field postmaster (Feldpostmeister). These post offices
controlled the Divisions post offices.
offices of Divisions: Feldpostexpeditionen
date stamp Special type
These post offices managed the mail of Divisions. It were subordinated
to the post offices of Army Corps.
Sedentary army post offices: Feldpoststationen
date stamp Special type
These post offices managed the mail of the occupation troops being in
the area behind the front (Etappengebiet) for a rather long
They were normally sedentary, but with in the conflict, some could
post offices of Divisions and Army Corps were mobile. The sedentary
post offices served units which were affected in a place
rather long time.
With the position war, it appeared that these date stamps were too
explicit and made possible the allied spies to locate with precision
the German units.
Also on February 15th, 1917, the post offices changed their names and
it was not possible any more to identify the units thanks to the date
stamp. The date stamps were"camouflaged" and made out with the mention
"Deutsche Feldpost" to which one adds a number.
The post offices for units (Feldpostamt and Feldpostexpedition) take
the numbers from 650 to 1021, while the sedentary offices
(feldpoststation) take the numbers from 1 to 649 and 2001 to 3113.
One can meet these date stamps only on registered letters or money
letters.On simple letters or postcards, one meets a dumb date
stamp made out "Deutsche Feldpost" with 3 stars. It is
rare to find the print of a date stamp with number on a simple letter
or a postcard.
In addition, on February 15th, 1917 very few post offices had a new
type of date stamp (because of manufacturing delays). The military Post
Office ordered to the army post-office personnel to scrape the mentions
being able to allow the identification of a post office or a unit until
the reception of the new type. Due to manufacturing delays the
replacement was done in the priority order below:
- new post offices
- post offices which had lost or damaged their scrapped date stamp
- post offices which still had a scraped date stamp
Several post offices never recieved dumb date stamp
So one meets until the end of the war new types of date stamps (with
number or star) and scraped ones. However, this scraping did not make
possible to mislead the allied spies who managed to rebuild the scraped
date stamps.It was decided in October 1917 that each post office of the
same Army would exchange its date stamp with another.
Army Newspaper cutting on February 1st, 1917 (Somme-Wacht n°
Changes of field post addresses.
On February 15th, 1917, as announced in Army Official
the following measures on the addressing of the sendings by field post
will come into effect:
In the addresses are forbidden all the indications on the theatres
of operations, the membership in Armies, Groups of Army,
of Army, Armed forces, Divisions and Brigades. The indication of a High
General Staff cannot follow only the addresses of the members of this
The field post addresses can contain only the indication of a
troop unit until the maximum level of the Regiment, that is: regiment,
Battalion and Company (Battery, Squadron) either independant Battalion,
Company (Battery, Squadron), or the official mark of the particular
unit (High General Staffs, Column, airmen, radio operators, etc.).
To the name of the Troop units which belong to a Regiment, one has to
add nothing except the indication of the Regiment, the Battalion, the
Company (Battery, Squadron), even not the number of the postal area.
To the name of the Troop units which belong to no Regiment (independent
Battalion, High General Staffs, Columns, airmen, radio operators,
etc.), the official mark of the concerned unit is necessary
military address, but with the addition of the mention "Deutsche
Feldpost Nr". The number of the competent military post office is to be
asked this one.
For the members of the General Staffs of Army Corps as well as
Divisions and Brigades, the number of the postal area has to stay in
All the post offices of Army Corps and Divisions are
identified by the mention " Deutsche Feldpost " and a number.
The military addresses must be written for example as follows:
The announcement of the new military
addresses to their close relations will be realized by the servicemen.
The close relations must be warned in every change of address.
a) Without indication of a number of
postal area besides the Regiment.
b) With indication of a number of
postal area, because not belonging to a Regiment.
Deutsche Feldpost N° 180
c) With indication of a number of
postal area, because particular unit not belonging to a
An Trainsoldat Otto
Reserve-Fuhrpark-Kolonne n° 190
Deutsche Feldpost N° 180
difference with the date stamps, the regimental stamps did not form
part of the equipment of the field post office. These stamps were
manufactured by firms in the request and the expenses of the various
units (regiments, battalions, companies, etc...).
So there is multiple different types. These stamps described
shortly the name of the unit and often the number or the name of the
military post office to which it was attached.
Often, this description is incomprehensible because of multiple
abbreviations which lost their meaning with the time.
These are not postmarks, but have an important utility all the
same; to ensure the free postage for a letter or a card which carries
They also made possible to prove that the sender was a military or in
all cases an authorized person.
These stamps were used until the end of the war, but with a less large
frequency, because after 1917, the number of the new units increased as
well as the number of assignment changes.It was very difficult to
manufacture these stamps several times with
the new wording.
These stamps were struck very often by advance on
blank cards or envelopes.
It often happens that one meets cards or letters with the only presence
of the regimental stamp.Indeed, the military post offices
recieved instructions in the event of very strong postal
not to stricke their date stamp. This in order to save time and not to
miss the departure of the postal convoys.
February 15th, 1917, the regimental stamps do not have to
any more of mention too explicit
as place-name, Divisions,
Army Corps or Army. The unauthorized mentions were filed. In time these
handstamps were re-made according to the new directives.
2 regimental stamps present the transition between the before February,
1917 and after February, 1917. It is here about the Lines of
communication warehouse of the 6th Army located in St Amand. After
February 14th, 1917, this warehouse takes the number 516.
Feldpoststation 411 was situated in St Amand and served all Lines
of communication units located in
Field post in pratice.
As in numerous
countries, the German troops in campaign can send their mail
postage-free, whatever the number of letters and cards.
post office makes a difference between what is private and what is not.
The private correspondence benefits for free postage while the
not private correspondence not.
postcards, were free, but cost 5 Pf until July 31st, 1916, 7.5
Pf until September 30th, 1918 and 10 Pf from October 1st, 1918 when not
could also be sent postage free. Beyond this weight, the postage cost
20 Pf. From October 5th, 1914, the postage was reduced to 10 Pf.
Letters were admitted to 250 g. From the end of December, 1916, letters
between 250 and 500 g were authorized. The postage of these letters
cost 20 Pf in the case of a private correspondence.
sent by a territorial soldier (Landsturm). The Feldpoststation
n°77 was in VALENCIENNES until 1915.
could not have of weight level upper to 500 g, the post office
authorized (without additional tax) an overtaking of 10 % weight. So a
letter weighing between 50 and 275 g cost 10 Pf and a letter between
275 and 550 g cost 20 Pf. The heavy letters are named
(small packet) by German.
sent by a soldier who was in the Bavarian military hospital
n°24. This hospital was in the business and industry school
in DENAIN. This letter was
handled by Bavarian Feldpoststation n° 419 the date stamp of
which was filed.
private letter (to 20 g) cost 10 Pf until July 31st, 1916 and
Pf to 1919, a letter to 250 g 10 Pf until July 31st, 1916 and 25 Pf to
of heavy franked with 20 Pf for a weight to 550 g. This letter
handled by Bavarian Feldpoststation n°411 with ST-AMAND.
Letters insufficiently franked from the front towards
were taxed in the simple of the insufficiency. Letters
insufficiently franked from Germany towards the front
returned to the sender.
Registration of letters was used only on service mail
could nevertheless take advantage of declared value letters. To 50 g and 150 Mark,
these letters took advantage of the free postage.
free registered letter posted in Feldpoststation n°45 located
in VALENCIENNES. It is about a service mail between
the local office of the secret Military police of the 2nd Army
(Geheime Feldpolizei, A.O.K 2.) and the High command of the 17th Army
(A.O.K 17). The letter was posted on September 14th, 1918. Post offices
had to put the their numbered date stamp on registered letter. The High
command of the 17th Army was in Denain since May 1st. We are here in
last days of presence of Feldpoststation n°45 to Valenciennes,
because this city will be a part of the zone of the 17th Army in the
course of September, 1918.
Of more than 50 g and to 300 M, they cost 20 Pf and finally the letters
of more than 50 g and more than 300 in 1500 M cost 40 Pf.
letter was posted in Bavarian Feldpoststation n° 407.
contained 320 Mark and weighed 32 g. The postage for this kind of
letter was 40 Pf (less than 50 g, more of 300 Mark). The registration
number of this letter is 545.
postage was granted to postcards and letters to 50 g sent in
Switzerland since October 8th, 1914 if the soldiers prove a narrow
family link with the addressees (wife, parents, grandparents, children,
brothers and sisters). The same applied with Spain (from
15th, 1915), Uruguay (from March 13th, 1915 till October 7th, 1917,
date its entering the war) and Denmark (from April 9th, 1915).
Letters must be posted opened.
preparation of the big offensives and to keep the secret on its
intentions, the High command could order a mail cut from some days to
some weeks. During this cut, the mail was allowed at departure, but
could not be any more forwarded in both directions to the addressee.
During the cut, mail was thus stored temporarily.
These mail cuts could be geographical for the units in a
particular zone of the front or then concern only the units which were
in transit and which were going to participate in the offensive. The
mail cuts were not announced, so that the soldiers and the families
made responsible the field post of the sudden delays while the post
office also was a victim of these cuts. Generally, the field post
affixed on the mails victims of a cut the postmark " Auf
militärischen Gründen verzögert " (delayed
efficiency of these mail cuts was quite relative,
found backdoors to send their mail. They could give it for example to a
soldier on leave who posted this mail in Germany or in a zone which was
the object of the mail cut. In his war memories, general Ludendorff
declares: " the mail cuts had no value. There were too many information
channels towards the country, I could not suspend the leaves,
because they were the only things which the High command could give to
the soldier ".
card was sent by an auxiliary conveyor (Hilfsschaffner) who was used by
the Direction of
the Military Railways n°1 (
Militär-Eisenbahndirektion I.). In April, 1915, mail
by Feldpoststation n° 77 of VALENCIENNES was subjected to a
the delays applied to the soldiers mail, the German army practised mail
as in many of the other European armies. This examination was made not
all by the field post, but by military services without link with the
the beginning of the war till April, 1916, the inspection of the
correspondence was not regulated, it could thus be made within
units in the most absolute arbitrary power especially as the
controlling people, generally officers, had no skill on the subject.
Certain company commander lingered only over the possible
of military secrets, others only on the private life of the soldiers
and the others were reluctant.
for BAMBERG having been controlled by the postal censor office
the 6th Army (Postüberwachungsstelle 6. Army).
It presents no departure postmark, however we can notice to
left of the censorship
stamp a mailman handstamp which shows that card
openly. The text, very short, was controlled because it was
written in Shorthand.
letter to Switzerland was sent as military mail (mention Feldpost) and
was franked with 20 Pf according to the international postal
Not involving a private mail, because sent to a banker, it could not
circulate postage free. Examined on March 28th, 1916 by the postal
control center of the 6th Army located in VALENCIENNES, the letter
arrived in BASEL on April 2nd, 1916.
citizens of the Reich
of Alsace-Lorraine saw their mail watched of still closer. A doubt
always remained concerning their loyalty to Germany.
Mail of soldiers native of these regions was very examined. Already
on March 27th, 1914, the War ministry published a secret decree
imposing from the institution of the imminent state of war or the
mobilization the use of postcards for private mail
envelopes for business mail in territories of Alsace-Lorraine and Baden
(dependent on Strasbourg and Neuf-Brisach).
War ministry published again on March 20th, 1917 another decree
which established a mail control in 2 directions. He also
that the until now random examination (on approximately 5 % of the
made on 90 % of the correspondences. This decree was justified because
of "the systematic and increasing enragement" of the population of
Alsace-Lorraine on behalf of the allies.
card was written by a pilot (Flieger) in training in the
school n° 2
(Jagdstaffelschule II) close to VALENCIENNES at THE
SENTINEL and who had been created on August 8th, 1917. This card was
bound for MOUTERHOUSE near SARREGUEMINES (Sarregemünd) in
Moselle. It passed by the postal censor office of this city which
struk its stamp " SARREGEMUND *P.K.* GEPRÜPFT UND ZU
BEFÖRDERN " (Sarreguemines *Postal Examination* inspected and
send). The card circulated openly otherwise, the postal
stamp would not be there.
3 postal censor offices (Postüberwachungsstellen)
located in the District of VALENCIENNES during the war:
- " Postüberwachungsstelle der 6. Armee " dependent on the
Etappen-Inspection of the 6th Army since March, 1915 and on
the 6th Army High Command since March, 1916. It left VALENCIENNES on
September 30th, 1916 to join TOURNAI (Belgium). It became
Postüberwachungsstelle n° 40 (P.Ü.St. 40) in
- " Postüberwachungsstelle der 1. Armee " dependent on the 1st
Army. In VALENCIENNES from October 1st, 1916 till April 18th, 1917. It
becomes Postüberwachungsstelle n° 36 (P.Ü.St.
February, 1917. It is very often called " militärische
Ueberwachungsstelle des Post-und Güterverkehrs der
(Military control center of mail and goods of the 1st Army).
It left VALENCIENNES for CHARLEVILLE on April 18th, 1917.
- "Postüberwachungsstelle n° 39" (P.Ü.St. 39)
on the 2nd Army. Settled in ST-QUENTIN until April, 1917, it went to
VALENCIENNES, it lef in September 1918.
Besides the postal control center of VALENCIENNES, from February, 1917
to the end of the war, 9 postal control centers were in
over the western front:
P.Ü.St. 26a: METZ, Armeeabteilung C.
P.Ü.St. 26b: CONFLANS-VALLEROY, Armeeabteilung C.
P.Ü.St. 28: SEDAN, 3rd Army
P.Ü.St. 30: VERVINS, LAON, 7th Army.
P.Ü.St. 31: MONS, 6th, then 17th Army.
P.Ü.St. 33: GHENT, 4th Army.
P.Ü.St. 38: VIRTON, 5th Army.
P.Ü.St. 44: MAUBEUGE, from January, 1918, for the 18th Army.
How to find informations?
the subject of the German field post during WW1 interests you
if you do not have any knowledge of German, you will have to be
provided with a good dictionary.
is some books dealing with this subject, but less than books dealing
with de WW2 which is more popular in Germany.
are the books which I frequently use:
der deutschen Feldpost im Kriege 1914/18
(History of Geman field post during WW1 14/18) by Karl SCHRACKE. This
book deal with the organization and the operation of the field post. It
is an old book (1920).
Feldpost im Ersten Weltkrieg 1914-1918 (The German field
post during WW1 1914-1918) by ANDERSON, BORLINGHAUS and KOOP. It's a
more recent book (2006).
der Deutschen Feldpost im Ersten Weltkrieg 1914-1918
(Catalog of German field post date stamps during WW1 1914-1918) by
the little more specialized works in which you will find
information on postmarks and post offices locations. I
Armee-Postdirektion 6 im ersten Weltkrieg 1914-1918 (The
field post Direction of the 6th Army) by B. KOOP. It is a very rich
on the post office of the 6th Army. You will find a lot of information
on date stamps, places, etc....
6th Army had occupied a very big part of the North of France.
Armee-Postdirektion 6 während des ersten Weltkrieges
(The field post Direction of the 6th Army during WW1) de B.
2008. It is the republication and the improvement of the previous book.
- Handbuch und Katalog der
deutschen Fliegertruppe im 1. Weltkrieg 1914-1918 (German air troops
Les Estampilles Postales de la Grande Guerre. Stéphane
et Thellier 1976. The German occupation of Norhern France is dealt with.
Die Post im Westlichen Etappengebiet und ihre Abstempelungen. E.
HEBERLE. 1928. The examiner marks are shortly handled for the 1st, 2nd
et 17th Armies. Rather goog for the 6th Army.
Heerespost an der Westfront. K. ZIRKENBACH 1935-1936. Study appeared in
the magazine"Postmarke" about Army post in Belgium and in
can also find 2 interesting books (in English) about the German army
order of battle. These 2 books are still published.
Histories of the 251 divisions of the German army that participated
in the war (1914-1918). Printed by The london Stamp exchange LTD.
German divisions in WWI (7 volumes), printed and published by the
Nafziger Collection Inc.