Research on the German Armed Forces 1918-1945
Panzerzug 26 (Feldpost Nr. 40046) (wide gauge) was the product of the
'Panzerzug 1941' program. Created in early 1941 in Wehrkreis VIII -
Breslau, it was designed for operations on Soviet wide gauge rail lines.
When initially made operational, the train contained an un-armored
Deutsche Reichsbahn Class-57 engine, a number of open flat wagons and two
tank-carrying wagons (transporting French Souma S-35 tanks). For
Operation Barbarossa, it was assigned to the 16.Armee; being home based in
Königsberg. The trains first assignment was to advance towards
Kaunas in Lithuania from Eydtkau in East Prussia. Between June and the
fall of 1941, Panzerzug 26 advanced from Kaunas to Vilniusin Lithuania, to
Daugavpils and to Rezekne in Latvia, from there to Idritsa and then to
Novosokolniki in Russia where it remained until winter 1941. By December
of 1941, Panzerzug 26 was located in the region between the cities of
Novosokoloniki and Dno near Leningrad.
During the month of April, 1942, Panzerzug 26 was converted to operate on standard gauge lines because the Germans had by then converted all of the Soviet wide gauge lines to standard gauge up to the Novosokolniki region. Panzerzug 26 operated in the Staraya Russa region in the month of May, 1942. On March 8th, 1943, Panzerzug 26 was withdrawn from the front lines. It was then completely refurbished and refitted in Zwickau, the process taking nearly a year to complete - being finished on February 19th, 1944.
Once agian in operational status, on February 20th, 1944, Panzerzug 26 returned to Rezekne in Latvia where it and Panzerzug 51 were ordered to secure the rail lines near Daugavipls and Rezekne in Latvia. Later, during May of 1944, Panzerzug 26 was serviced and refitted with two wagons mounting Soviet T-34 tank turrets in Daugavpils. Once completed, the train was sent back to the Nevel region.
During the month of July, 1944, the train was engaged in combat actions near Polotsk and Idritsa. On July 26th, 1944, Panzerzug 26 fought a duel with Soviet tanks from the Stalin Tank Brigade near the village of Bigosovo. Though Panzerzug 26 was able to destroy six Soviet tanks, the attacking Soviet armor was able to destroy the trains command wagon. Panzerzug 26 was able to escape, but the accompanying train carrying German Infantry Troops fell in to Soviet captivity. Panzerzug 26 fought another battle with Soviet forces in late July of 1944, forcing it to Riga for additional repairs.
On August 6th, 1944, the train was ordered to Mitava in Latvia and from there to southern Estonia. In Estonia, Panzerzug 26 provided artillery support to German and Estonian forces near the Estonian villages of Lepassare and Husari. On August 11th, 1944, a Soviet air attack seriously damaged both Panzerzug 26 and 51, which were located on the same line in nearly the same place. Two days later, on August 13th, 1941, a Soviet armored attack derailed Panzerzug 51 near the Estonian village of S&puml;merpalu. Panzerzug 26 was able to escape first to the village of Antsla and then on to the village of Anne, though at Anstla, the train had to first destroy all of the Soviet tanks which were occupying the Anstla railroad yard before it could move on to Anne. Panzerzug 26 remained in Anne until August 20th, 1944. While there, the crews of the destroyed Panzerzug 51 and Panzerzug 67 were added to the roster of Panzerzug 26. The train was able to make it from Anne in Estonia to Tukkums in Latvia. Panzerzug 26 remained in the Tukkums to Liepaja region for the duration of the war; now a part of the Kurland pocket. Plans did actually call for a maritime evacuation of the train, but the Germans were never able to realize these plans.
Panzerzug 26 participated in many defensive actions while in the Kurland pocket. Towards the end of April 1945, its artillery and command wagons had been totally destroyed. Panzerzug 26 was then brought to Liepaja for repairs, but it saw no further combat action after that time.
Panzerzug 26 surrendered to the Soviets on May 9th, 1945 in Liepaja (Libau) in Latvia.
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