Lot #: 80270

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Description

1948 Jerusalem siege incoming CIVILIAN mail flown by the military + APO 5 provisional postmark discovery: 11-06-1948 postmarked cover from civilian in TEL AVIV to soldier Avraham Ziskind of the "Kvutzat Portzim" (eg. 4th Breechers Battalion / 'Gdud Portzim' of the Palmach 'Harel Brigade' - this was the staff battalion containing the special forces units of the brigade, hence the "kvutza" - 'group' - designation), at besieged KIRYAT ANAVIM "near Jerusalem", franked 10m using tabbed rouletted right marginal single (Ba 3c) & tied by full strike of TEL AVIV head post office cancellation (on Friday just before Shavuot holiday on Sunday - an important proving date, see below).
The letter was posted the day the 1st Truce of the War of Independence came into effect (lasting 28 days until 9 July - although both sides violated it). At this time until 20 June, the JERUSALEM area was under total land siege and mail into or out from the area was transported by air, however between 7-18 June there was no regular air service from TEL AVIV to JERUSALEM, and this was rectified when the provisional Army Post Office (#5) became part of the general Army Post service, on the 18th; from then until 2 August mail in both directions was flown.
As civilian originating mail (and not bearing any "on active service" markings on the front) - and particularly as incoming mail - in order for it to have been transmitted at this time it had to have been transported though a forwarding service or a courier or surreptitiously entered into the Army Post system: the cover has been repaired and lacks part of the back-flap and part of the return address, but what is visible is handwritten and appears to be a post office box in TEL AVIV (the Hebrew letters T.D. are mostly visible), suggesting that it was not an official letter from a body like the Jewish Agency (eligible for airmail service, as a governmental body); the letter if vertically folded as is often seen on couriered letters. Nevertheless, there are documented cases of mail to this locale & the nearby Ma'ale Hachamisha settlement - Kibbutzim near the front line housing many active servicemen - having received both civilian & army letters: JSPS p.156 posits that specifically in the cases of these 2 locales the Army may have considered them military outposts and treated mail sent to them as Army Mail. As such the civilian post office in TEL AVIV passed letters addressed to them to the Army Post, which in turn flew them to the Army Post Office in JERUSALEM.
As such this cover was flown to Jerusalem following the airmail stoppage of 7-18 June and reached Army Post Office APO 5 in JERUSALEM on 3 July, backstamped by the provisional APO rubber cancellation: this is an important 'discovery' item. Dated as 3 July and confirmed by the initial civilian dispatch date of 11 June, this appears to overturn the finding of Dr. Baruch Hurwich in 1988 (HLPH bulletin #35 p.844-847) "proving that all dates with the month July are errors and should really be June" (JSPS p.155); the use of this large rubber provisional APO cancellation instead of the standard smaller metal one is also a unique occurence as it exceeds the last known date of use of 17 June (on the 18th the metal cancelling device entered use).
The cover was then forwarded to KIRYAT ANAVIM where the address was crossed out in red crayon with the soldier's service number added, and with the notation added: "In Recovery Break, Wounded" and probably here a blank adhesive label was attached on the front with the notation "To be returned to sender, [addressee] in recovery | Battalion IV..."; the cover was subsequently returned to APO 5 on 13 July (backstamp) again using the provisional rubber handstamp.
From here it appears that the army had difficulty locating the soldier, and the cover was subsequently dispatched to APO 15 (TEL LITVINSKY), the headquarters of the Harel Brigade as well as the location of the Tel HaShomer hospital, where it was received 2 Dec 1948 - the long transit time is typical of returned/rerouted military mail from this period; here the cover probably stamped with the Army Postal Service boxed cachet for undelivered mail, where it was re-routed to PO Box 171 (Naval Headquarters per Harris), with the original label and other notation crossed off: the word "Saad" (nursing/invalid) was initially written, then crossed off and the word "Wounded" written above - this too crossed off.
The cover was forwarded to APO 4 (HAIFA) on 10 Dec. 1948 - and still unable to be delivered, whereupon it was sent to the Army's Returned Letter Office on the 13th, where the cover was stamped once on the front and once on the back + pencilled date on front. Opened roughly at top (part of backflap with part of return address missing), exploded for repair and reattached to inner board for reinforcement. A rare specimen of incoming Jerusalem siege airmail, unusual routing for civilian mail, well travelled as military mail & with superb, clear groundbreaking postal markings.