French Legion Stamps and Postal History

    Postal History

    French volunteers who served with the German forces in Russia use the same Feldpost services as their fellow compatriots. In 1941, mail up to 20gms was free of charge. Domestic rates were applied to mail over 20gms to 1000gms as stated in the postal agreement set up by the Vichy and German governments. These concessions applied to mail sent to and from the occupied portion of France. By late 1942, Feldpost service was granted in southern France.

    LVF cards

    LVF Propaganda Eastern Front Postcards

    Very nice and rare "Cartes Postales de la Légion des Voluntaires Français" (French Volunteer Legion post cards). This complete set of 12 propaganda eastern front cards with sleeve was sold in Paris and other major cities.

    The Spanish Blue Division and Walloon Legion also had a similar set of propaganda cards with sleeve illustrating combatants fighting in the eastern front.

    Nine propaganda labels and one souvenir sheet, honoring the LVF, were distributed to the postal agencies in both occupied and unoccupied France. The funds taken from the propaganda labels were used to support the LVF and family members.

    LVF Polar Bear Sheet

    LVF Polar Bear Sheet

    On 24 October 1941 a souvenir Polar Bear Sheet with a surcharge of 100 Francs was issued. The Polar Bear with the red star represents Russia while the Sword is the New Order. On the upper corner is the French Vichy Axe with the LVF inscription. An estimated 20,000 sheets were sold in the Paris Feldpost Headquarters of the LVF.
    Another 5000 sheets were placed on sale on 31 October.
    The sheet was designed by Vinay and engraved by Degorce. The sheets were to be used for airmail service to and from the Eastern Front. They were also used commercially. The Polar Bear sheets exist perforated and imperforated. There are other varieties of the sheet, which is listed in Michel specialized catalog. Forgeries printed from the same plate exist.

    On 10 December 1941, two perforated Feldpost airmail labels were issued. One design shows a German Junkers Ju 88 bomber going towards Moscow.
    The label has a 1Franc surcharge with the red inscription "COURRIER OFFICIEL PAR AVION." It was designed by J. E. Bonhotal and engraved by Pierre Gandon.

    The other label shows a fighter returning from the Eastern Front. Label has a surcharge of 10 Francs with similar inscription in blue but with the word "SPECIAL" replacing "OFFICIEL." This label was designed by Vinay and engraved by Degorce.
    A total of 450,000 pairs were printed and 141,000 pairs were sold.
    ,BR> On 15 January 1942, the remaining 309,000 pairs were overprinted with the bilingual inscription "FRONT DE L'EST/ OSTFRONT" (Eastern Front). A total of 137,500 pairs were sold and the balanced destroyed. These labels were sold by subscription and on open sale. Different varieties of these labels exist.

    LVF Air Labels

    LVF Air Labels

    The cover was mailed by a French Colonel Legionnaire who was in training in Debica, Poland. The cover shows a nice LVF Airmail Label with the Eastern Front overprint written in French and German. Interestingly it has a German 5 Rpf Hitler stamp probably to pay for the extra letter weight. Covers showing legitimate postage stamps with legion labels attached are rare. Notice the printed Expeditionary Force in Russia above the Colonel's name. Below it are two French Airmail labels with the Eastern Front overprints. On the bottom left is a propaganda label with a French stamp and anti-bolshevik postal cancel.

    LVF Legion Labels

    LVF Labels

    On 20 April 1942, a set of five labels each with a surtax of One Franc, were issue to commemorate the 130th Napoleonic Anniversary of the battle of Borodino in Russia. The labels were printed by photogravure in sheets of 25 with adjoining labels picturing the Legion's emblem. One million sets were printed. Sold in Paris, Lyon and Marseilles.

    Above shows LVF labels in blocks of four with the LVF emblem. This interesting Legion set shows Frenchmen in combat. On one of the combat scenes shows French Legionnaires with the NAZI salute honoring Napoleon's Grand Army Grenadiers.

    On 12 October 1942 the Vichy government issued an official semi-postal stamp that was sold to the public. The stamp design was taken from a recruiting poster done by Eric. It depicts a Legionnaire and in the background a column of Napoleonic grenadiers. The stamp was engraved by P. Gandon. It has a postal value of 1.20 Francs with a surcharge of 8.80 Francs. The sale of the semi-postal was used to benefit the Legion. The stamp was printed in sheets of 20. The sheets were arranged with the two top rows in blue, the middle row with albino impressions and the two bottom rows in red. The coloring was supposed to be patriotic. There were 120,000 sheets printed. They were withdrawn from sale on 25 May 1943, thought remaining valid until 1 November 1944. A set of 12 postcards was issued showing propaganda pictures of the French Volunteer Legion. In addition in 1943-44, the SS propaganda branch issued various recruiting postcards. Some of these postcards have French inscriptions on back, indicating the Waffen-SS needs your support. In addition machine cancellations commemorating the Legion exist. They bear different slogans, such as "CELEBREZ LE 30 AOUT L'ANNIVERSAIRE DE LA LEGION."

    French Legion Tricolore Issues

    French Legion Tricolore Issues

    The Legion Tricolore issues shown on the left were legitimate semi-postal stamps authorized by the Vichy Government. The proceeds of the sale benefited the Legion. This was an attempt from the Vichy Government to form an independent military army to protect French interest. It only lasted for six months, Hitler did not like the idea of the Legion transfering into a French governing system. The former members opted in re-joining the LVF. The top cover was actualy mailed to a LVF Coporal FPN 03865, 1st Batalion.

    French Legion Tricolore Cards

    French Legion Tricolore Issues

    Above illustrates two propaganda minister sepia cards with ExpositionTricolore, Lyon postal cancels posted on Tricolore semi- postals.

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