In WWI, after the Germans had taken the Kaunas fortress on August 18,1915 and were planning to take Vilnius by a pincers movement, the river Nemunas (Njemen) had to be crossed at several other points as well. The township Balbieriškis (Balverzhishki, Balwerzischki) on the left bank of the river south of Kaunas was within the area of the attacking German XXI. Armee-Korps. It was taken, and the river crossed there, in the second half of August.
During the German retreat from Russia at the end of 1918, the Red Army advancing into southern Lithuania stopped at a Russo-German agreed demarcation line some distance east of the river Nemunas. However, during the Soviet offensive in the first half of February 1919 their troops, for about two days, took possession of Alytus on February 13, having taken Punia (also on the river bank) on February 10. However, their aim of crossing the Nemunas on a wider front was soon beaten back jointly by Lithuanian reinforcements and speedy arrival of new German volunteer Grenzschutz units from Grodno. As Balbieriškis was situated on the left bank, it was spared fighting and destruction.
The first postmaster (įgaliotinis) to open a Lithuanian post office at Balbieriškis was Vincas Klimavi?ius, his mandate registered on July 15, 1919. The exact date of opening is not clear. The following year, as from November 16, 1920 Vincas Klimavičius was moved as valdininkas to the Alytus P.O. and was replaced as postmaster by Amuratas Bagdanavičius, also from the Alytus P.O.
The earliest stamps available at Balbieriškis were values of Fourth Berlin Issue, followed by the Sėjėjas Issue etc.
In the absence of a formal postmarker, early cancelling was done in manuscript in black ink by indicating place and date. A single stamp so marked and showing “…..19” was in W.E. Norton’s collection. However, a rectangular cachet with inscription “Balbieriškis No.” and a line appears to have been obtained soon and was used for cancelling until a standard calendar-type postmarker was supplied in late 1921(?).
Known provisional cancellations:
Manuscript cancelling indicating place and date:
[…] 19 single, Berlin IV 10 [formerly Norton]
Oblong box-type cachet:
10 / IV / 20 block of 4, Berlin IV 30 [colln. Doniela]
no date, single, 2nd Anniv. 10 [colln. Lapas]
no date, singles, Berlin IV [colln. Doniela]