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General Philatelic/Newcomer Cnr : World War I Soldier's Mail

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BermudaSailor
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04 Apr 2017
09:47:59am
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Here’s a recent acquisition, courtesy of my wife, who gave me this postcard in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of WW I. As you can see from the scan the face of the card features General Charles Mangin, the French general known affectionately as the :Butcher”

What’s more interesting, at least to me, is the address and message side of the card. Unfortunately it is not dated, but there is a more or less clear censor’s mark. It is stampless and in lieu of a stamp is inscribed “soldiers mail”. It is addressed to Lt. George Potts of Asbury Park, N.J., sent no doubt by one of Lt. Pott’s former colleagues.

It reads: Dear Leuit - How does home look now still at Bordeaux expect to get back some day. You can drop a card if your hand is fit. (Signed) R. McGrail Bo
x 208 APO 705.

A bit of investigation turned up the History of Monmouth County New Jersey 1660 – 1920. From that source I learned that Lt. Potts was wounded in France, won the Silver Star and was a practicing physician.

The reference can be found here:

https://books.google.com/books?id=Nz8VAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA232&lpg=PA232&dq=George+Potts+Asbury+Park,+NJ&source=bl&ots=icvGQ4z-GY&sig=PfcHy3jCJ4pHleKwXNFZAxSfY60&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjO24Tx7orTAhUl2oMKHUU5DhoQ6AEIIDAD#v=onepage&q=George%20Potts%20Asbury%20Park%2C%20NJ&f=false

The one inconsistency is the statement in the above reference that Doctor Potts did not return to New Jersey until 1920. I suppose that there could have been two different George Potts fighting in France at the time, however unlikely.

I have been unable to learn anything of the sender, Mr. McGrail.

Lt. Pott’s Silver Star citation is here: http://valor.militarytimes.com/recipient.php?recipientid=33525

As the postcard is undated and there is no cancellation and the censors mark lacks a date it is difficult to ascertain when it was written or received. Any insights about the censor mark design, and when and where is was used would be appreciated.

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
04 Apr 2017
10:05:46am
re: World War I Soldier's Mail

I would guess that this is post war post card judging from the tone of the letter.

APO 705 was a base hospital and i've seen things dated there from 1918 and 1919. Could be that the writer assumes that Potts had already been discharged.

Note that McGrail refers to Potts' injured hand.


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Ningpo
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04 Apr 2017
10:29:29am
re: World War I Soldier's Mail

The first two lots on this auction site show the censor marking more clearly. Unfortunately, the images will not enlarge adequately:

Kelleher Auctions

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Poodle_Mum
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04 Apr 2017
05:37:43pm
re: World War I Soldier's Mail

The bottom left card in the link is dated 1918 - it came up on my magnifier.

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Pogopossum
04 Apr 2017
09:46:38pm
re: World War I Soldier's Mail

There is a lengthy and fascinating article on World War I philately in this month's American Philatelist. There are several illustrations of that censor stamp so it seems of fairly wide use, and according to the article APO 705 would be a fairly early office, and the 800's and 900's came during 1918-1919.

I'm definitely no expert in this field, but if you have access to the article it is a good read with plenty of references at the end.

Geoff

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Linus
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04 Apr 2017
10:41:55pm
re: World War I Soldier's Mail

David - That is a great World War I postcard! Nice. I like the square jaw of General Mangin. I bet he was one tough SOB. By coincidence, I just acquired these two WWI covers this past Saturday at the local flea market in Des Moines, Iowa, USA. I am no expert on this type of censor marking, but my covers show a similar censor mark on January 23, 1919 on the first cover and April 24, 1919 on the second one, both after the war was over. I am not sure how long they used it after the war.

Thanks for sharing your postcard, David.

Linus

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pigdoc
12 Mar 2021
11:28:58am
re: World War I Soldier's Mail

As my Aviation Pioneers collection of postally used picture postcards matures, I've been looking around the edges of that collecting focus. Just acquired this beauty:
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Under magnification, I can see that caption at the bottom of the photo is a transcription of the placard hanging on the front of the SPAD VII. You can make out the lettering "VIEUX CHARLES" on the side of the aircraft. The plane is preserved at Musee de l'Air:
Image Not Found.
The stork badge of unity on the side of the plane is the emblem of Escadrille No.3, Cigognes (Stork), a unit that Guynemer commanded.

This postcard is a memorial to Georges Guynemer, France's second highest scoring (and most beloved) ace in WWI, with 54 kills. He was killed on September 11, 1917, in combat, in a SPAD XIII northeast of Ypres, Belgium, in "Flanders fields". (Guynemer was influential in the design of the SPAD XIII.) As you can see, the card was mailed on November 12, 1917. The sender was "Louis", and the addressee is "Ida", of Eyguieres, in the Rhone region of southern France. The message of the card is difficult to decipher (any help appreciated), but apparently ends in wishes for "la famille".

I'm interested in the postmark, wondering if it was posted (apparently by unmarked Free mail) from near Ypres. I can make out "TRE" easily, and it looks like the fourth character in the town name is probably "G". The only possible hit I have so far is Tregra, a small village just west of Ghent, about 32 km northeast of Ypres, as the crow flies. Can anyone associate the postal code in the postmark, "196" with a particular location?

For me, this item hits a number of highpoints of collectability:
- There was a probable meaning in sending it - honoring the event depicted on the card.
- It was sent in the contemporary time period of the event depicted.
- It's probably soldier's mail, honoring a fellow soldier.
- It seems to have been posted from very near the area where the event occurred (implying that the sender was touched by the event).
- The image is a nice close-up, showing great detail

There is a fascinating and very detailed account of Guynemer's military career, here:
Guynemer

-Paul

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pigdoc
27 Sep 2021
09:37:38pm
re: World War I Soldier's Mail

Just received this beauty:
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I can't translate the first word on the front, but the rest is "on 18 June 1916 at Lens"

From wikipedia:

Quote:

"Immelmann was the first pilot to be awarded the Pour le Mérite, Germany's highest military honor, receiving it on the day of his eighth victory, 12 January 1916. The medal became unofficially known as the "Blue Max" in the German Air Service in honor of Immelmann. His medal was presented by Kaiser Wilhelm II on 12 January 1916. Oswald Boelcke received his medal at the same time"

.

Max Immelmann was shot down on June 18, 1916 near Lens, in France in a Fokker Eindecker III while attempting to down his 18th aerial kill.

The manuscript on the reverse is a bit too cryptic to translate for a non-German speaker like me. I cannot make out any reference to Leutnant Immelmann in the message, but the card was mailed less than 3 weeks after he died.

Can anyone decipher the message? I wonder also if it was sent from a location near Lens.

Thanks,
-Paul

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
28 Sep 2021
09:19:32am
re: World War I Soldier's Mail

there are also aerial maneuvers named after him

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pigdoc
28 Sep 2021
01:22:08pm
re: World War I Soldier's Mail

A little more on the Fokker Eindecker on the postcard above.

I've concluded that it's an E.IV. A couple of clues to that:
- the distinctive cowling shape, covering the 2-row, 14-cylinder Oberusel rotary engine
- the model number was shown on the lower fuselage. I can just barely discern Fok.EIV on the postcard. Here's a clearer (different) image:
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The Fokker E.IV had a much heavier 2-row rotary engine, and this made the aircraft less maneuverable, and thus, less preferable to pilots. The gyroscopic effect of that much mass twirling around must have been immense! Twice the engine doesn't necessarily make twice the airplane. I am fortunate to live near the Golden Age Air Museum, and they fly a replica Fokker Dreidecker I (triplane) with a Gnome rotary engine. The rate of turn to the right is impressive. To the left, not so much. That's what the gyroscopic effect does to maneuverability.

Wikipedia (not a primary source) says that Immelmann was flying the E.IV on a May 31 mission when the interrupter gear for the guns malfunctioned and the propeller was damaged. But, on the day he was shot down, he was flying the E.III.

-Paul




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roy
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28 Sep 2021
02:02:23pm
re: World War I Soldier's Mail

Quote:

"I can't translate the first word on the front, but the rest is "on 18 June 1916 at Lens""



Abgestürzt = "Crashed"

Roy

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pigdoc
28 Sep 2021
07:45:31pm
re: World War I Soldier's Mail

Thanks, Roy!!!

Now, can anyone make out the first word on the reverse, in front of "6 Juli"? I presume it's a place name, but cannot find anything ending in "by". The first letter is most difficult. The rest looks like _onnenby, but I could be way off.

HOWEVER, I believe I detect "Immelmann" at the left end of the 3rd line from the bottom:
Image Not Found

My postcard collecting habit is driven by three ideals:
- postally used, preferably in the area near the place depicted in the image
- postally used, preferably near the time of the event depicted in the image
- message refers to the place/event depicted in the image

Got 2 of 3, so far!

-Paul

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roy
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28 Sep 2021
11:21:52pm
re: World War I Soldier's Mail

I am afraid you will be a bit disappointed. The parts I can make out are all health and greetings.

A better scan of just the back might help. I find I am battling a combination of old German script, fuzzy pencil and lack of resolution.

The top date line is "Donnerstag 6 Juli" (Thursday July 6)

The card is addressed "To the Student ..." (An den Schüler ...)
and seems to be signed "Papi"

After the greeting line (can't make it out), it goes on with

Bin ganz erschrocken in dass du
krank wurst hoffentlich bist
du jezt besser. Papi ist gut
zu Wege. Hoffentlich bin ich
bald wieder bei Euch. Bleibe
gesund und munter und ....
du und .... ..... mir herzlich
.... .... ....
Dein Papi

Translation:
I was quite shocked that you were sick.
Hopefully you are better now.
Papi is well on the way and hopefully
will be with you soon. Stay(ing)
healthy and cheerful (note: not sure if this is first person
or second person (you) stay cheerful)

(The final line is blurry, but I believe it is a
standard closing)
You and ??? .... my heartfelt ..... (and then I lose it)

Your Papi



Roy







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HockeyNut
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29 Sep 2021
05:06:08am
re: World War I Soldier's Mail

Donnerstag 6 Juli

M(einer) L(ieber) Herzen jünge.
Bin ganz erschrocken dass du
krank wurst hoffentlich bist
du jezt besser. Papi ist gut
zu Wege. Hoffentlich bin ich
bald wieder bei Euch. Bleibe
gesund und munter und sei
Du und mami mir herzlich
gegrusst und ....
Dein Papi


An den Schüler
Herrn Froh..höfer

Altona / Elbe
Am Brunnenhof 25

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And thanks to Roy you have the most of the translation

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Strider
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29 Sep 2021
05:37:48am
re: World War I Soldier's Mail

I see early in this thread Pigdoc posted a card celebrating the French pilot George Guynemer, who brought down 54 enemy planes in the first world war, before he was himself shot down in September 1917. He appears on a French stamp issued in October 1940 - it's SG667a, Scott 396.

What I'm puzzled by is the issue date of the stamp. France fell to the Nazis in June 1940, and yet a stamp celebrating a man whose claim to fame was that he killed 54 German airmen was issued 4 months later. Odd that the person deciding on stamp designs didn't think twice before authorising that issue. Was it a career enhancing move? Am I missing something? Can anyone enlighten me?


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pigdoc
29 Sep 2021
02:47:53pm
re: World War I Soldier's Mail

Hey Striker,

That's an interesting observation.
Guynemer was a national hero in France, and you can see evidence of that in how the residue of his life (his plane) was memorialized, and remains enshrined, even today. He was, no doubt a source of great nationalistic pride to the French people.

The French were very begrudging of their conquerors in WWII. Not too long ago, I read a great book which details how Parisians took extraordinary risks to resist the occupation. It's called When Paris Went Dark, the City of Light under German Occupation, 1940-1944 by Ronald C. Rosbottom. An excellent read!

-Paul

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