In WWI, being on the border and thus in a kind of no man’s land, the town of Kretinga (Kretingen, Krottingen) was immediately passed through by German troops when the push into Žemaitija and Courland started on April 27, 1915. By 2.30 a.m. that morning cavalrymen of 6. Kavallerie-Division rushed through Kretinga in the direction of Kartena (Korciany) where they met the first serious Russian resistance. During the German occupation Kretinga was provided with a branch of the Ob.-Ost postal system, named Russisch Krottingen. It was opened on July 1, 1916 and closed on December 26, 1918.
Kretinga’s importance increased when a railway line was completed on October 1, 1915 linking Klaipėda (Memel) with Courland, branching off at Prekulė (Prekuln) to Liepaja (Libau) and to Riga via Mažeikiai. Thus when the German army retreated from Russia at the end of 1918, Kretinga remained a significant location for German border guards (Grenzschutz). In the second half of 1919, when this railway line turned into one of the lifelines for the aggressive “bermontininkai” active in Latvia and northern Lithuania, clashes with Lithuanian formations occasionally were serious, including one in Kretinga on October 24.
The mandate of the first Lithuanian įgaliotinis, Jurgis Klibavičius, to take over the Ob.-Ost post office in Kretinga was supplied in advance, as early as December 21, 1918 but the date of actual take-over is not certain. When he was later transferred as įgaliotinis to Plungė, on March 16, his place was taken by Saliamonas Bagdanavičius from Seda. On about June 17 another valdininkas, Jonas Giteris, came to Kretinga. On December 1 S. Bagdanavičius went as postmaster to (Kudirkos) Naumiestis and was replaced by the postmaster of Rietavas, Teofilius Listanderis. On December 1, 1920 the latter was replaced by Martynas Kuršis.
The first stamps available at Kretinga were Second Vilnius Issue. There is no evidence of First Vilnius Issue, and availability of Kaunas Issues is still unclear. By May 1919, Fourth Berlin Issue was in use.
Having no formal postmarker, at first Kretinga cancelled stamps by ink, indicating place and date.
Later, a one-line cachet in italic script was used.
A standard circular calendar-type Kretinga postmarker is known with dates of May 1919, but it seems certain that for a while it was retained at Kaunas for purely philatelic purposes. This canceller is well known on C.T.O. singles and full sets of Second Berlin Issue and Third Berlin Issue which were not sold to general public.
Known provisional cancellations:
Cancelling in MS date and place:
17 III 19 letter to Kaunas, Vilnius II 30 [colln. Bubnys]
8 IV 19 letter to Gargždai, Vilnius II 30 [colln.Lapas]
13 IV 19 lettercard to Germany with insufficient address, Vilnius II 20 x4 [colln. Bubnys]
18 / III / 19 single, Vilnius II 30 [colln. Doniela]
Cancelling by one-line italic script cachet:
No date, single Berlin IV 60 [colln. Liesis]