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Research on the German Armed Forces 1918-1945

Eisenbahn-Panzerzug 3


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 3 was formed from, but in 1938, it was offically under the control of General Kommando, VII.Armee-Korps in München

Eisenbahn-Panzerzug 3 (Feldpost Nr. 03841) (a standard gauge train) first saw action during the Polish campaign of 1939. Like most of the other German armored trains participating in the Polish campaign, Panzerzug 3 had a most dubious start. Having barely crossed the German-Polish border on September 1st, 1939, Panzerzug 3 quickly found itself near the town of Könitz, a point not missed by the Poles who proceeded to damage it extensively. The very timely arrival of III./Inf.Reg.90 insured the trains survival. It was then sent to Danzig for repairs and refitting.

For the French Campaign, Panzerzug 3 was assigned to support German infantry attacks against the Netherlands. On May 10th, 1940, near the bridges over the Ijssel river in the town of Zutphen, Panzerzug 3's advance was stopped by determined Dutch troops who held an advantage by also being located in a concrete bunker. Panzerzug 3 received heavy battle damage from the defending Dutch forces. Elements of the 227.Infantrie Division and an Infantry Batallion from the Liebstandarte SS Adolf Hitler fought with the crew of Panzerzug 3 until the defending Dutch forces surrendered. The heavily damaged train was immediately withdrawn to Köln for repairs. During August of 1940, Panzerzug 3 was reassigned to perform guard duties in the Netherlands. It remained there for the next nine months.

On May 10th, 1941, Panzerzug 3 was transferred to Prosken, East Prussia, from Eindhoven, the Netherlands, to support Operation Barbarossa. Panzerzug 3 was assigned to Heeresgruppe Mitte, 9.Armee, still configured to standard gauge. Shortly after 22 June 1941, Panzerzug 3 helped capture the border town of Grajevo and from there it proceeded towards the city of Byalistok. In October of 1941, Panzerzug 3 returned to Königsberg to receive upgraded radio and communications equipment. During the winter of 1941/1942, Panzerzug 3 was assigned to protect the immediate hinterlands in and around the city of Nevel in Russia. In May of 1942, Panzerzug 3 was heavily damaged by mines in the same area. It was withdrawn from front-line service for repairs and refitting. Panzerzug 83, a home-made armored train created by a most enterprising 83.Infantrie-Division (hence the number 83) temporarily replaced Panzerzug 3. By December of 1943, Panzerzug 3 remained in the rear areas of Heeresgruppe Mitte still undergoing repairs from the May 1942 mine attack.

In August of 1944, Panzerzug 3 was reassigned to Heeresgruppe Nord where it was ordered to support the XXXIX.Panzer-Korps. On August 16th, 1944, Panzerzug 3 derailed near the village of Krottingen in Eastern Prussia/Lithuania; it was forced back to German rear areas for repairs and so was not able to participate in preventing the Soviets from separating Heeresgruppe Nord from the rest of the German defensive positions which the Soviets did on August 20th, 1944, near the Latvian town of Tukkums. After being repaired in September of 1944, Panzerzug 3 was returned to the front lines and transferred to Latvia to support the 201.Sicherheits-Division operating between the villages of Akmene and Papile. On October 5th, 1944, Panzerzug 3 was supporting German defensive efforts near the Latvian and Lithuanian border region. On October 10th, 1944, Soviet armored troops cut the rail lines at both ends of the Latvian town of Vainode; Panzerzug 3 was thus cut off from retreat. To prevent its capture and use by Soviet forces, the train was blown up by its crew, thus ending the operational history of Panzerzug 3.