What happened to the mail on NDL steamer Gneisenau 8/14

A place to discuss items of censored mail from World War I

What happened to the mail on NDL steamer Gneisenau 8/14

Postby dannmayo » Thu Jan 07, 2016 2:35 pm

The following is from Robin Pizer in an attempt to add detail for an article for the CCSG Bulletin.

What happened to the mail on the NDL steamer Gneisenau in August 1914 ?

Do you have any letters or parcel cards postmarked in Germany addressed to Australia in the days before 29.7.1914 when the Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL) Imperial Postal Steamer (Reichspostdampfer) sailed from Bremerhaven bound for Australia ? What happened to the mail ? Did it reach Australia or was it returned to sender ?

7 parcel cards for 11 parcels via Bremen to Australia are known postmarked in Germany between 20.7.1914 and 24.7.1914. None of these cards have any arrival mark in Australia or elsewhere but this is not unusual as some pre war parcel cards are known which have no Australian markings while others do. None of the 7 parcel cards mentioned above show any censor mark or return to sender mark.
The front and back of a parcel card from Plauen postmarked 24.7.1914 is illustrated. [To view, click on the .jpg links in the Attachments list below.] This was for 3 x 5kg parcels marked 'via Bremen direct with the German Postal Steamer' in red ink. The rate paid was 4.60M per parcel total 13.20M. The card is addressed to Malvern near Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

The fate of the Gneisenau
The Gneisenau arrived in Antwerp on 31.7.14 and planned to leave on 2.8.14 having picked up more mail and cargo. It did not leave and was seized by the Belgians following the German invasion of Belgium on 4.8.14. The Gazet van Antwerpen initially mentioned that the Gneisenau was to be used as a holding centre for German Prisoners of War, later it said it was used as a hospital ship for wounded Belgian troops. The seizure of the ship was subject to Court action in September 1914 but this was overtaken by the German capture of Antwerp on 10.10.14. The records of the Court case are now missing. The Belgians tried to sink the ship on 9.10.14 but the ship did not actually sink until 12.10.14. The Germans raised the ship in 1916/1917. No mention of what happened to the letters and parcels on board has been found.

1. the mail was destroyed;
2. the mail was returned to sender but how and where from ?
3. the mail was forwarded to Australia but how and where did it end up ?
Examples of letters and parcel cards from Germany addressed to Australia with postal or censorship or recipient's markings are wanted to decide between the possibilities. If you have any official notices concerning any of these possibilities, a copy would be most welcome.

Please email scans of items (front and back if relevant) to Robin via the link that you will find by clicking on pizerr in the members list.

For those members wishing more formation, I am attaching Robert's "Detailed Background." Click on the .pdf link below to view that file.
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