The Samovar

German U-Boat Mail

jlechtanski - 1/11/2009 at 17:43

Michael Ercolini shows two covers from January, 1917 in the latest Rossica Bulletin - one stamped UB64 and the other with a manuscript U Boot / U.64. And asks: "Does this mean that the mail was carried by German U-boats?"

My first thought was that they were.

U-boat mail to neutral countries was inaugurated by Germany during WWI to avoid the British naval blockade. Sweden and Norway (routes suggested by Mr. Ercolini) were neutral in WWI and could have been serviced by the u-boat service.

There was mail sent by u-boat between Germany and the US during the war until diplomatic relations were broken in February, 1917 (shortly after these letters were sent).

I was interested enough to look up UB-64 on several of the websites documenting the various German u-boats. UB-64 wasn't launched until 9 June 1917 -- so that can't be.

I looked up U-64 and found it was launched 29 Feb 1916, But it arrived in the Adriatic 19 Nov 1916 and patrolled the Mediterranean Sea until sunk in 17 June 1918 west of Sicily.

So what are these markings?

Lacplesis - 1/12/2009 at 02:31

Are there any other unit-marks?
Difficult to say without having seen the covers.

jlechtanski - 1/14/2009 at 12:07

There are no unit marks on the covers that I see. These are Russian covers, so I would not expect German military unit marks to be applied.

Also, I don't see any marks or endorsements that you would see on commercial u-boat mail -- like "Tauchbootbrief" or "Unterseepost."

Maybe Mr. Ercolini might post the covers to the Samovar.

jlechtanski - 1/14/2009 at 14:12

What I meant was that since they are Russian covers (with Russian stamps and Russian censor markings), they would have been transported by civilian u-boat from Norway or Sweden to Germany. German military unit marks would appear on German military mail transported by u-boats of the German Navy. Am I wrong?

By the way, they are both addressed to Holland -- one from Archangel and one from Petrograd.

Those are interesting Russian postal cards used as field post cards that you displayed.

Is that first one from the German occupation of Kretinga, Lithuania during WWI?

Lacplesis - 1/15/2009 at 07:20

I just got an answer regarding the mailroute from Russia to the Netherlands.

The russian mail was transferd from Sweden to the Netherlands via Germany in sealed mailbags. So realy no need to do any fancy stunts with the mail, like using a submarine.