Italian postmark handstamp
US Army postal clerks arrived shortly after Allied forces took Naples, Italy, on October 1, 1943. Assigned to the city’s modern post office, they quickly assessed the facility as inadequate for the needs of the 2nd BPO (Base Post Office). On October 7th, the BPO clerks were in the process of moving out when a time bomb exploded in the post office killing and wounding members of the unit, Allies, and Italians.
This Italian handstamp became an Army postal clerk’s souvenir of World War II. The device still shows the date on which it was last used at the post office—27 September 1943.
Mid-twentieth century European postmarking handstamps differed in design from those in the U.S. Most European marking devices incorporated month, date, time, and year wheels within a hollow-core postmarker. They are sometimes referred to as 'barrel' datestamps. In contrast, the U.S. did not adopt this style until 1955, when the Pitney Bowes S-55 handstamp was introduced. Even then, they saw limited use.
“A Letter from the Publisher.” Time (February 14, 1944).
Life (November 1, 1943).
A. W. Schreck, letter to National Postal Museum, 1987.