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WW2 German Eisenbahn-Panzerzug 6


History

Initially, the German Wehrmacht did not favor the idea of maintaining armored trains within its arsenal. Advances in tank and aircraft technologies and tactics made the concept of large, lumbering armored trains seem a thing of the past, but none-the-less, as of July 23rd, 1938, seven armored trains were on the rolls of the Wehrmacht. Each was formed from already existing Reichsbahn (German National Railway) track protection trains, in existance since the 1920's. It is not known exactly which Reichsbanh track protection train Eisenbahn-Panzerzug 6 was formed from, but in 1938, it was offically under the control of General Kommando, I.Armee-Korps in Königsberg/Insterburg.

Panzerzug 6 (Feldpost Nr. 09171) (standard gauge) first saw action in the Polish campaign in 1939; though at that time, it was not fully operational A a few troops wagons were missing from its full complement and not all of the armor plates were yet affixed to the train as per standing regulations. Panzerzug 6 was one of the few German armored trains which actually met with operational success while fighting in Poland. On September 1st, 1939, the Polish town of Grajewo, just a few miles to the south of the East Prussian-Polish border, was captured with the help of Panzerzug 6.

In October of 1939, Panzerzug 6 was brought to the RAW facilities in Königsberg so that the train's missing components could be completed. It then remained in the east for a while, being assigned benign patrolling duties.

For the French campaign, Panzerzug 6 was transferred to the German town of Weener, just to the south of the port-city of Emden. It was assigned to support the German 1.Kavalliere-Division as it advanced against Dutch forces in northern Holland. The German forces in this area hoped to gain the advantage through a surprise attack, but the Dutch saw the threat and as soon as Panzerzug 6 approached the bridge over the Bulten Aa river, the Dutch blew up the bridge. German engineers were quickly able to repair the bridge so that Panzerzug 6 could advance. A short distance later, Panzerzug 6 approached a second bridge, this one was west of the Dutch town of Winschoten. As this bridge was a turn-bridge, the Dutch simply turned the bridge so that it became impassable. German forces attempted to dislodge the defending Dutch troops, but failed. Shortly thereafter, Panzerzug 6 was redeployed to Wuppertal in Germany.

During the spring of 1941, Panzerzug 6 was transferred to Klaipeda (Memel) in German annexed Lithuania. For Operation Barbarossa, Panzerzug 6 was assigned to Heeresgruppe Nord. It remained configured to standard gauge because the Germans had determined that the Soviets had not finished converting the standard gauge Klaipeda-Liepaja rail line to wide gauge. Panzerzug 6 advanced as planned and participated in the capture of the Latvian port-city of Liepaja in late June of 1941. From there, the train advanced to Riga, then Valka in Estonia, reaching the town of Pskov on September 3rd, 1941. By December of 1941, the train was patrolling the Dno to Novgorod area on the far ends of the northern fringes of the eastern front.

In May of 1942, Panzerzug 6 received heavy battle damage and was removed from the front lines and sent to Warsaw for repairs. Because an armored train was still needed in the region, Panzerzug 6 was replaced with Panzerzug 51. After being repaired and refurbished, Panzerzug 6 was re-assigned to Serbia, where on October 1st, 1944, Panzerzug 6 was destroyed in combat in Yugoslavia.