The town of Kelmė (Kelmy, Kielmy) lies on the strategic highway linking Tilsit in northern East Prussia and Šiauliai (Schaulen). In WWI, during the German advance into Žemaitija and Courland which started on April 27, 1915, Kelmė after some heavy fighting by cavalry was taken by Abteilung Pappritz on April 29. During the German occupation a post office KIELMY was opened within the Postgebiet Ob.-Ost civilian structure on January 15, 1916, but in the same year it was re-located to nearby SKAUDWILE (Lith. Skaudvilė) on October 20. SKAUDWILE was closed down on December 26, 1918.
After the German forces withdrew from Russia at the end of 1918, Kelmė – because of its position on the strategic highway – remained in a zone guarded by a German volunteer unit, Detachement Randow, later incorporated in the freshly appointed Generalkommando 52 which on March 26 was renamed Brigade Schaulen. These troops had their own volunteer field post facility Frw. Feldpost 3072.
The highway between Tilsit and Šiauliai remained under German military supervision throughout the year 1919, though after the formation of so-called Westarmee or Zapadnaja Armija the area came to be controlled by “bermontininkai”, causing occasional armed conflicts.
A mandate as įgaliotinis to establish a Lithuanian post office in Kelmė, as from March 16, 1919 was given to Jonas Kareiva. By his own request he was released from duties on December 13, 1919, his successor being Kostas Razminas. In a further exchange, as from March 16,1920, Kostas Razminas was transferred as postmaster to Kražiai and the postmaster of Kražiai Vaclovas Sakalauskas came as postmaster to Kelmė.
The first Lithuanian stamps available at Kelmė seem to have been values of Second Kaunas Issue, soon followed mainly by Fourth Berlin Issue etc. Quite a few covers from this period, both ordinary and registered, were philatelically motivated where the sender was a certain Haase stating his occupation as Feldscher (army surgeon). Many of his registered covers still have postal receipts attached to them.
With no standard postmarker to start with, in its early days Kelmė cancelled stamps in handwriting, showing date first, then place.
Sometimes the MS cancel was confirmed by a violet circular seal inscribed “Kelmės … Komitetas”
Before long, a two-line cachet was made up, showing place first, then date.
Later a makeshift box-type cachet was employed, again showing place and date. A standard calendar-type postmarker was supplied in 1920.
Having no standard registration cachet, Kelmė at first indicated registration by writing on the postal article the serial number and place.
Some time later, handwritten identification was replaced by a one-liner simply stating Kelmė with the registration number.
By September 1919 a box-type cachet with an additional hand-written “R” was employed. It was similar in shape but larger than the box-type cachet used for cancelling. Surviving covers show its colours as black or shades of violet, rose and red.
A standard calendar-type postmarker and a standard registration cachet were supplied in early 1920. However, the postmarker did not work very well and when its movable bridge failed to function, the date had to be inscribed by hand.
Known provisional markings:
Cancelling by handwriting (date first, then Kelmė):
7 / IV  single, Berlin II 30 [colln. Doniela]
24 / IV / 1919 letter to USA [reported Norton]
1 – 5 – 19 single, Kaunas II 30 [colln. Doniela]
5 – 5 – 19 single, Kaunas II 60 [colln. Doniela]
25. 5. 19 card to Kaunas, Kaunas II 30 [colln. Bubnys]
Cancelling by MS and circular “Komitetas”:
?/ 4 / 19 cover to Libau, Second Kaunas 50 [colln ?]
Cancelling by a two-liner (Kelmė first, then date):
22 – 7 – 19m. letter to Germany, Berlin IV 60 [colln. Lapas]
14 – 8 – 19m. [reported Fugalevičius]
Cancelling by box-type Kelmė and date:
11 / 9. 19 letter to Šilalė, Berlin IV/?/ 30 [colln. Bubnys]
15 X 19 [reported Fugalevičius]
Various dates, singles etc. [colln. Liesis etc.]
Registration by MS:
26 24 / IV  reg. letter to Germany, stamps cancelled MS, Kaunas II 60, Berlin II 40 [colln. Ušpuras]
54 8 – 5 – 19 reg. letter to Kaunas [reported Norton]
Registration by one-liner Kelmė and MS “R”:
257 14. 8. 1919 reg. postcard to Sweden, Berlin IV 30 x3 [colln. ?]
Registration by box-type Kelmė and date:
534 30. 9. 19 reg letter to Germany, Berlin IV 10 x4, 15, 30 x2 [colln. Brazdeikis]
617 13. X. 19 reg. letter to Germany, Berlin IV 5a [colln. ?]
620 13. X. 19 reg. letter to Germany, Berlin IV 1a x2 [colln. Wilson]
621 13. X. 19 reg. letter to Kelmė, Berlin IV 3a [colln. Lapas]
622 13. X. 19 reg. cover to Kelme, Berlin IV 1a, 3a [colln. Bubnys]
623 13. X. 19 reg letter to Kelmė, Berlin IV 5a [colln. Ušpuras]
629 15. X. 19 reg. cover to Kelme, Berlin IV 60 [colln. Bubnys]
632 15. X. 19 reg. letter to Kelmė, Berlin IV 60 [colln. Ušpuras]
643 15. X. 19 reg. letter to Kelmė, Berlin IV 75 [colln. Doniela]
654 15. X. 19 reg. cover to Berlin, Berlin IV 3a [colln. Bubnys]
656 15. X. 19 reg. Letter to Germany, Berlin IV 5a [colln. Doniela]
Standard postmarker with date inscribed by hand:
581 17 / II  reg. cover to USA, Berlin IV 1a [colln. Bubnys]
584 20 / X 20 reg. letter to USA, Berlin IV 50 x2, 60 [colln. Doniela]