In WWI, when a German drive into Žemaitija and Courland started on April 27, 1915, Telšiai was soon, at 6 a.m. April 29, passed through by 33rd cav. brig. (6.Kavallerie-Division) and advance troops of 11th res. brig. (6. Reseve-Infantery-Division). During the German occupation a civilian post office within the Postgebiet Ob.-Ost system, named Telsze, was opened on July 1, 1916 and closed on December 20, 1918. For a while, Aug. 1916 – Oct.16, Feldpoststation 223 had also come to Telšiai.
When the German troops retreated from Russia at the end of 1918, they were followed by the Red Army whose International Division crossed northern Lithuania as far west as Telšiai, its troops entering the town on January 25, 1919. No post office was established here during the Bolshevik period. They were pushed out on March 8-9, 1919 by German volunteer border guards, Detachement Schlenther, who hurried on to Kuršėnai (Kurschany) to support a resolute attempt to capture Šiauliai.
A belated mandate in turbulent times to re-open a Lithuanian post office at Telšiai was sent on January 25, 1919 to a Mr. E. Druvė who failed to respond to both this and the next message instructing to take up duties as a postmaster (įgaliotinis) at Mažeikiai. On March 16, 1919 Vaclovas Drąsutavičius was appointed as įgaliotinis for the task at Telšiai, with greater success as he stayed on more permanently.
For stamps, Telšiai seems to have begun with a small stock of the Second Vilnius Issue but before long the Fourth Berlin Issue became available. At this and later times the use of stamps seen on mail from Telšiai was strongly affected by ardent philatelic interests of local physician Dr. Jonas Mikulskis who may have personally obtained some issues directly from Kaunas. It was also due to Dr. Jonas Mikulskis that Telšiai acquired philatelic fame for the hectographed Telšiai provisional label-like stamps – produced in February 1920 presumably to supplement the dwindling or sold-out stock of regular Lithuanian stamps.
Telšiai having no regular postmarker to start with, early cancelling was done by hand. Before long, a (metal ?) one-liner “TeLsiai” was made up.
The first calendar-type circular postmarker shows dates of early May, but since it was also used to cancel entire sets, including under-the-counter imperforate stamps, early cancelling was most likely done in Kaunas (as happened with early circular postmarkers of several other post offices). In Telšiai, mail with authentic circular cancellations appears a little later.
A registration cachet was supplied to Telšiai well after the circular postmarker had been received. Some registered items from 1919 show boxed manuscript markings but there also exist items bearing the standard Postgebiet Ob.-Ost registration etiquettes with the inscription “Telsche” rather than “Telsze”. These probably derive from personal efforts of Dr. Mikulskis himself.
Known provisional markings
Cancelling by MS:
29 / III /19, single stamp Vilnius II 50 sk. [formerly colln. Žygas]
date unknown, two stamps Vilnius II [formerly colln. Antanas Stepanas]
Cancelling by one-liner “TeLsiai”:
no date, Vilnius II 40 sk [colln. Geyfman]
Registration by MS box:
515 16. VIII. 19 postcard to Holland [colln. Doniela]
Registration with Ob.-Ost Telsche etiquettes:
385 25. VII. 16 (=19) cover to Germany, Vilnius II 40, Berlin IV 30, 60 [colln ?]
477 10.VIII.19 cover to Germany, Kaunas II 60, Kaunas III 20 x2, Berlin IV 20 [colln. ?]
707 11. IX. 19 cover to Holland [colln. Doniela]
For more details on the provisional Telšiai hectographed “Postmaster’s Issue” see articles by Vytautas Doniela: “The Values on the 1920 Telšiai Provisionals”, in Journal of the Lithuanian Philatelic Society of Chicago, No. 227 (2000), pp. 82-85, and “The 1920 Telšiai Provisional on Covers”, ibid., No. 234 (2005), pp. 79-81.