Šiauliai is a major town in northern Lithuania. Because of its strategic importance as a communications hub it was an object of two battles in 1915 and hotly contested again in 1919. During the German advance into Žemaitija and Courland Šiauliai was taken by 78. Reserve-Division on April 30, 1915, lost on May 10, then re-taken by 1. Reserve-Korps on July 21.
During the German withdrawal from Russia Šiauliai was entered by the International Division of the Red Army on January 15, 1919. Pushing on to Riga, German Grenzschutz troops re-took Šiauliai on March 11.
In the czarist period Šiauliai had a post office Shavli and during German occupation a branch Schaulen was established within the civilian framework of Postgebiet Ob.-Ost, functioning from January 15, 1916 until December 26, 1918. A stationary Feldpoststation 175 was active f rom August 1915 to ca. December 1918. In the postwar period, for a short period a Soviet post office was opened but so far there is no surviving trace of its activity. Much more is known about the operations of the German volunteer Frw. Feldpost 3072 which, in 1919, serviced both local and transiting Grenzschutz troops, including members of the subsequently formed Russo-German Westarmee.
A Lithuanian post office was opened on January 2, 1919 by Kiprijonas Galvydis who had been mandated in advance by the Pašto Valdyba. But its first period was short-lived, for by mid- or late January a Soviet post office was set up, possibly by taking over the Lithuanian beginnings and letting Galvydis continue as postmaster.
After the eviction of the Bolsheviks, the Lithuanian post office was soon reconstituted and was active again in the second half of March 1919. It already had an available stock of Lithuanian stamps (10 and 15 of First Vilnius and 20 and 30 of Second Vilnius) which had reached Šiauliai very late in 1918 or very early in 1919 and which could not be put to full use because of the Bolshevik occupation. The earliest dates seen on these stamps for the “second period” are 24 / III and 26 / III.
For cancelling and general official use, it is possible that already during the “first period” (early January 1919) the energetic Kiprijonas Galvydis procured a seal-like circular cachet, of which there is a surviving strike on a Vilnius II 30 sk. single. The surving fragment shows “ŠIAULIŲ PAŠ..” and obviously was meant for use at the post office. However, there is no certainty that the seal with the Vytis in the centre derives from the “first period”, for it may in fact have been produced after March 1919.
It is clear, however, that cancelling in the “second period” for a while was done in manuscript, as shown by a cut-out from an authentic postcard addressed to Germany, and also shown by a manuscript advance cancellation of a stamp subsequently cancelled by a proper postmarker.
A standard calendar-type postmarker was supplied without delay and is in evidence for early April (see the postcard below dated 5. IV. 19).
By contrast, a regular cachet for registration was delivered much later. In its absence, registration was indicated by MS imitation of a frame or by pasting on home-made labels.
The presence in Šiauliai of philatelically-minded members of the Grenzsschutz and contacts with stamp dealers in Latvia may have contributed to the fact that some stamps from the Vilnius Issues can be found with impossibly back-dated “ŠIAULIAI” cancellations, e.g. 28.XII. 18, 30. XII. 18 etc., suggesting that some keen collectors were interested in “first day of issue” strikes.
These dates are fakes, for at that time there was no such postmarker.
[For a more detailed account of postal history of Šiauliai in WWI and the immediate post-WWI period, including the Grenzschutz, see an article /in Lithuanian/ by Vytautas Doniela, “Paštai Šiauliuose 1915- 1919 metais” in the Journal of the Lithuania Philatelic Society /Chicago/, No. 237 (2008-2009)]
Known provisional markings:
Cancelling by a seal-like cachet (Jan. 1919 or post-March 1919 ?):
No date single, Vilnius II 30 [formerly Matuzas]
Cancelling in manuscript:
24 / III / 19 cut-out from card to Germany, Vilnius II 30 [colln. Bubnys]
26 / III / 19 on Vilnius I 10 [colln. Doniela]
Registration in MS or by home-made label:
1 20. VIII. 19 reg. cover to Riga, Berlin IV 20, 50 x2 [colln. Doniela]
112 25.VIII. 19 reg. cover to Riga, label, Berlin IV 20, 40, 60 [colln. Bubnys]
337 7. IX. 19 reg. cover to Riga, label, Berlin IV 10, 15 x2, 20, 30, 40 [colln. Ušpuras]
751 6. VIII. 19 reg. card to Riga, Berlin IV 60 [colln. Lindberg]
777 8. VIII. 19 reg. cover to Riga, Berlin IV 10 x2, 15, 30, 60 [colln. Lindberg]
818 12. VIII. 19 reg. cover to Riga, Berlin IV 10, 20, 30, 60 [colln. Lindberg]
823 13. VIII. 19 reg. cover to Riga, label, Berlin IV 10 x2, 15 x2, 20 x2, 30 [colln. Lindberg]