Research on the German Armed Forces 1918-1945
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 1 was formed from,
but in 1938, it was offically under the control of General Kommando, IX.Armee Korps located in Kassel.
Eisenbahn-Panzerzug 5 (Feldpost Nr. 15107) had the shortest operational career of the original seven German armored trains in existence in 1939. Though it became operational right after the start of the Second World War, because it was lightly armed in its initial configuration, it was best suited for rear area actions only. On September 15th, 1939, Panzerzug 5 departed from the rear areas of Heeresgruppe Süd through the Polish city of Krakow towards Lvov. On September 20th, 1939 the train was ordered to provide area security near Lvov as German and Soviet forces met to discuss the demarcation lines. Shortly after this, the train was relocated to the Silesian industrial region.
After the end of the Polish Campaign, and towards the end of 1939, Panzerzug 5 was transferred to Emden on the western front. There, it was to prepare itself for the invasion of the Netherlands. Just prior to the start of the Western Campaign of 1940, Panzerzug 5 was moved up to the town of Dalheim (near München-Gladbach) on the Dutch-German border. It was envisioned that Panzerzug 5 would provide close support to the Dutch uniformed German commando teams of Baulehr-Batallion zbV 800 (Otherwise known as the Brandenburgers, here under the rather non-descript unit title they were at the time a part of) as they rushed to occupy key bridges and rail junctions over the Maas river north of the Dutch town of Roermond. A team of "Dutch dressed" Brandenburgers proceeded towards the railroad bridge near Buggenum. Another team of Brandenburgers started to make their way towards Roermond. But they were spotted by the Dutch and got caught in a firefight. The Dutch quickly alerted their sentries guarding the Buggenum bridge who blew the bridge just as a team of "Dutch" Brandenburgers was storming it in hopes of capturing it intact. On May 10th, 1940 Panzerzug 5 moved forwards through Roermond and now found itself in front of the destroyed Ijssel Bridge. As soon as it stopped, hidden Dutch anti-tank cannons opened fire hitting the brake control lines with their first shot. This essentially immobilized the train. Dutch fire then pounded the train to pieces. The surviving wagons were reassigned to Panzerzug 1; Panzerzug 5 was officially thereafter stricken from the records in June of 1940.
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