A photograph commemorating the delivery of the first steam boiler after repair – 1919

The Bolshevik war

In 1918-1921, Poland fighting against Ukrainians and Bolsheviks used more armoured trains than any country whatsoever (except the Soviet Union). In that period at least 80 completely or partially armoured trains took part in the war, although they were not all used at the same time. They were supplemented by approximately 30 trophy trains, mainly broad-gauge trains (such as “Generał Dowbor-Muśnicki”, “Generał Iwaszkie-wicz”, “Generał Konarzewski”, “Generał Krajowski”, “Generał Listowski”, “Generał Śmigły-Rydz”, “Groźny Szeroki”, “Hallerczyk Szeroki”, “Pierwszy Marszałek Polski”, “Piłsudczyk Szeroki”, “Pionier Szeroki”, “Pułkownik Sikorski”, and “Śmiały Szeroki”).


Trains were picked and armoured by the boards for the construction of armoured trains:


• No. 1 in Warsaw – the Warsaw-Vienna Railway Workshops and workshops in Łapy built the following: “Poznańczyk”, “Kaniów”, “Boruta”, “Zagończyk”, “Groźny”, and “Mściwy”


• No. 2 in Kraków – the Zieleniewski Factory built “Hallerczyk”, “Gromobój”, “Saper”, “Wawel”, and “Bartosz Głowacki”), and the factory in Nowy Sącz built “Odsiecz”, “Huragan”, “Pomsta”, “Ochotnik”, “Wilk”, “Smok”, “Rozwadowczyk”, and “Stefan Czarniecki”


• No. 3 in Lviv besieged by Ukrainians, where the following trains were built:

Lwowianin” – later “PP3” and “Lis-Kula”, “Pionier”, “Paderewski” and self-propelled carriages “Technik” and “Ułan”.


In addition, the workshops in Jarosław, Przemyśl, Stryi, Chełm and the factory in Sanok assembled improvised armoured trains.


The locomotives of the first trains were covered with boiler plates of ordinary steel plates. Some of them were only partially armoured. The carriages were adapted by mounting a wall made of two layers of planks with concrete filling in between or erecting a wall using rails. The last, partially armoured locomotives were still built in 1921 for improvised armoured trains used during the Third Silesian Uprising. The locomotives, armoured one by one, were covered with armour plate, the carriages were fitted with rotating gun turrets and had all-steel sheathing.

Railwaymen – soldiers in front of an armoured train during the Polish-Russian war in Lviv

During the war waged against Soviet Russia, Polish railway troops formed on 1 July 1920 were composed of 198 officers and 8,669 privates. The core of the emerging railway army was recruited from former squads and soldiers – Poles who had previously done military service in similar formations of the occupying forces. Despite their low headcount, railway sappers, from 4 December 1918 to 31 December 1920 put into operation approx. 6,400 miles (10,300 km) of new railway routes, reconstructed 4,163 miles (6,700 km) of destroyed tracks, repaired 2,175 miles (3,500 km) of railway telegraph and telephone lines, removed obstructions from 530 railway bridges that in total were more than 11 miles (18 kilometres) long, gathered more than 200 steam locomotives, 500 passenger carriages and about 7,500 freight wagons in Lviv and Dęblin. In July 1920 the 2nd Railway Regiment was formed. It was composed of battalions which took part in fighting during the Polish and Bolshevik war on the Lithuanian and Belarusian front. During the fighting in Ukraine and Russia the Polish party lost several trains and more than 2,000 people. After the wars to establish boundaries, the 12 best train assigned to 2 bases – in Legionowo and in Niepołomice – remained in service. The rest were disassembled, the locomotives were disarmed and put into civil use.

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© Całość praw autorskich - Antoni Bochen, Filip Wiśniewski