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paper; ink
Height x Width: 3 7/8 x 5 1/2 in. (9.84 x 13.97 cm)
Covers & Associated Letters
Place of Origin:
FRANCE (republic)
February 11, 1919
This postcard is part of a wider trend of sending picture postcards during World War I. The image on the front shows a local church, though it was also common for cards to have a sentimental or propaganda theme. The short message shares reassurances and good wishes between two servicemen brothers.
From the change of address marked in red pencil it can be seen that this postcard was redirected to a field hospital (APO 930 was in Treves, Germany). Redirections such as this were controlled by the Central Records Office, who received reports from all fronts including military bases and field hospitals. Because it was sent by a serviceman it is franked for free postage. The numbered purple censorship stamp indicates that this postcard was censored by a specific organization, probably the serviceman’s unit, before it was mailed.
World War I saw the beginnings of the US Army Post Office, the first postal system in the world to be clearly distinguished from an established government postal system. It became a separate organization following tensions over the War Department’s reluctance to disclose to the Post Office Department the locations of military units, making their task near impossible. Although the branches established during World War I were disabled at the end of the war, a precedent was set for the managing of mail in all future conflicts.
Sackett, Richard W. “The Beginning of the American APO”. The American Philatelist 932 (1978): 857-867.
Sanford, Hennen M. The Mail of the A.E.F. American Expeditionary Forces. The American Philatelic Society, Maryland, 1940.
Van Dam, Theo, ed, The Postal History of the AEF, 1917-1923. New York, The War Cover Club, 1990.
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Data Source:
National Postal Museum