In WWI, Rietavas (Retovo, Retowo) after a brief fire-fight was passed through by German infantry units of the 12th res. brig. (6. Reserve-Division) at about midday on April 28, 1915 , that is, the day after the Germans embarked on a push into Žemaitija and Courland. Though Rietavas already had had a post office during czarist times, no such facility was opened during the German occupation. No stationary Feldpost was established here either.
When the German army retreated from Russia at the end of 1918, in Lithuania the Red Army did not advance past Telšiai. Rietavas and neighbouring localities were guarded by small German border defence units, and Lithuanians set up forms of local self-government.
A mandate by Pašto Valdyba to open, as įgaliotinis, a Lithuanian post office at Rietavas was given to Teofilius Listanderis, dated as from January 26, 1919. On August 1 he was to be transferred as įgaliotinis to Kretinga but for some time this did not eventuate. At Rietavas, he still signed as įgaliotinis as late as mid-October 1919. His transfer to Kretinga was confirmed on December 1, 1919. As from July 4, Rietavas was given a temporary (or assistant ?) įgaliotinis, Simonas Skudas, till then įgaliotinis at Radviliškis, who replaced T. Listanderis when he did move to Kretinga. On February 15, 1920 temporary igaliotinis Simonas Skudas was replaced by a new postmaster, Jonas Puškorius, and stayed on as valdininkas.
First Lithuanian stamps sold at Rietavas were values from Second Vilnius Issue, with no evidence of First Vilnius Issue and First Kaunas Issue. Second Kaunas Issue followed, then Fourth Berlin Issue etc.
To start with, Rietavas had no formal postmarker and the earliest mode of cancelling consisted of deleting stamps cross-wise.
By March 1919 a Gothic one-line cachet ”Retowo” was used, most likely a left-over from the German period.
Similarly, there was no registration cachet to start with. Earliest marking was done by means of neat hand-made manuscript labels written out in red ink and affixed to the postal article.
A circular calendar-type postmarker was supplied in 1920.
Known provisional cancellations:
19 II 19 to a P.O.W. camp in Germany, Vilnius II 10, 50 [colln. Lapas]
10 X 19 Money Order to Kaunas, Berlin IV 10 x2, 30, cancelled cross-wise and “Retowo” and signed T. Listanderis [colln. Doniela]
Cancelling by Gothic one-liner “Retowo”:
30 / III / 19 cover to Gargzdai Vilnius II 10, Kaunas II 20 [colln. Bubnys]
15 / IV / 19 cover to Gargzdai Kaunas II 10, 20 [colln. Bubnys]
18 IV 19 to Gargždai, Kaunas II 10, 20 [colln. Bubnys]
No date, single Kaunas II 10 [formerly Matuzas]
No date single, Kaunas II 10 [colln. Bubnys]
No date, singles Berlin IV [several collns]
Registration by red MS hand-made labels:
4 26 III 19 reg. to Gargždai, Vilnius II 15 x2 (reg. 30 sk., official business free frank) [formerly Žygas]
7 20 / III / 19 reg. to Gargzdai, Vilnius II 15 x2 ( reg. 30 sk., official business free frank) [colln. Bubnys]
26 2 IV 19 reg. to Gemany, Kaunas II 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50 [colln Doniela]
41 5 IV 19 reg. to Gargždai, Kaunas II 15 x2 (reg. 30 sk., official business free frank) [colln. Ušpuras]
44 5 IV 19 reg. to Gargždai, Kaunas II 30 (reg. 30 sk., official business free frank) [colln. Lapas]
63 16 IV 19 reg. Gargždai, Kaunas II 10 x3 (reg. 30 sk, official business free frank) [colln. ?]