In WWI, when the German push into Žemaitija and Courland started soon after midnight into April 27, 1915, Gargždai (Garždai, Gorsdy, Gorzhdy) being right on the border was in no-man’s land and was passed through by reco units. A little further south, units of 12th cav. brig. (6.Kavallerie-Division) were on their way to Andrejavas and Rietavas. Though a post office at Gargždai (Gorzhdy) had been opened in czarist times after 1900, no such facility was available during the German occupation in WWI and local mail had to collected from the Ob.-Ost civilian post office at Kretinga (Russisch Krottingen). During the German army’s retreat from Russia at the end of 1918, Red Army did not advance as far west as Gargždai and some security was provided by the proximity of Klaipėda (Memel) still part of the Reich.
A mandate on February 8, 1919, to open a Lithuanian post office was given to įgaliotinis Liudvikas Drochneris who promptly established links with neighbouring offices in Žemaitija etc., and also looked favourably on philatelic requests to produce and send off mail with the new label-looking Lithuanian stamps. As from August 27, 1920 Drochner’s duties as įgaliotinis were temporarily relegated to Konstantinas Balsys who formally was also a postal valdininkas at Kretinga. As from September 1, 1920 Liudvikas Drochneris was transferred as a valdininkas to Mažeikiai, at a raised salary of 750 auksinai, and his place as postmaster at Gargždai was now fully taken over by Konstantinas Balsys.
There is no evidence of Gargždai being supplied with First Vilnius and Second Vilnius Issues. The earliest seems to be First Kaunas Issue, followed by Fourth Berlin Issue and so forth.
To start with, Gargždai had no formal postmarker and stamps were cancelled in ink.
Later, a one-line cachet “Garždai” was in use from ca. April 1919 onwards, lasting into very early 1920.
By the end of 1919 Gargždai seems to have run out of stamps, so tariff was collected in cash with a notation of the amount on the postal article and signed by “Įgaliotinis Droch…”
Then a makeshift calendar-type postmarker was obtained, probably from neighbouring Klaipėda (Memel), which imitated German traditions and so differed somewhat from the first Lithuanian circular cancellers supplied by Kaunas. The first officially supplied calendar-type postmarker still carried the spelling “GARŽDAI” (Fug. 438, 439), but in later ones it was corrected to GARGŽDAI.
Known provisional markings:
27 II 19 letter card with Kaunas I 10, 15, 20 incl. error “5” instead of “15”, to Germany [reported by Žygas}
Cancelling by one-line provisional cachet “Garzdai”:
9 IV 19 reg. cover from Retowo with Kaunas II 30 [colln. Lapas]
18 IV 19 cover from Retowo with Kaunas II 10, 20 [colln. Bubnys]
19 IV 19 cover with Kaunas I set, to Germany, Kbg censor [colln. Bubnys]
7 V 19 folded letter from Viežaičiai with Kaunas II 40 [colln. Lapas]
30 V 19 card with Berlin IV 30 to Germany [colln. Bubnys]
29 VI 19 card with Berlin IV 20, 30 to Germany [formerly Norton]
30 VI 19 cover with Raseiniai local 15 kop. stamp addressed to Drochner [colln. Doniela]
No date singles Kaunas I [colln. Liesis, Doniela, Bubnys]
No date singles Berlin IV [colln. Liesis, Doniela]
1 I 20 card, no stamp, “apmokėta 20 sk.” signed “Įgaliotinis Droch….” [colln. Bubnys]
Cancelling by non-standard circular postmarker “GARZDAI”:
24 Jan 1920 reg. letter No. 242 to USA, Lith. censor receiving markings [colln. Lapas]