PIBWL Polish Armour page
Main page - Polish armour / armoured trains / Generał Konarzewski   - Polish artillery - Steel Panthers - what's new - Links
  © Michal Derela, 2020

Polish armoured train "Generał Konarzewski"

and Imperial Russian armoured train of Special Duty Naval Regiment

Generał Konarzewski
"Generał Konarzewski" with original naval anchor emblem

Among Polish armoured trains created from captured Soviet rolling stock, one of the most interesting was number 24 "Generał Konarzewski", despite the fact that his Polish combat career was short and the train itself was an improvised unit. It originated from one of the first armoured trains of the Russian army, originally constructed on Polish territory and used in combat almost since the beginning of World War I. Among the early Russian units, it stood out by its maritime crew background and markings. It was also one of the first Bolshevik trains and operated in 1918 in the same area and time as the first Polish armoured train "Związek Broni". The fate wanted, that two years later it was used by the Poles on the same line...

Note: W marks external links to relevant Wikipedia articles.


History:

During World War I, there appeared conditions for wider use of armoured trains, and Russia became one of pioneers in this field. First units of this type began to be formed immediately after the outbreak of war and soon became widespread, due to conditions of warfare on the Eastern Front. Initially, they were semi-improvised trains, later more advanced constructions began to appear, and they achieved perfection during the civil war. The wagons of one of the first Russian armoured trains of the Great War, which was formed and debuted in combat on Polish territory, ended their careers in Polish hands – although to be precise, these peculiar wagons were created a little later during the war. The history of this train, despite research conducted in the 21st century, is not entirely clear, however. We have managed to reconstruct its transformations better than before, and come to conclusions partly different from those presented in both Russian and Polish publications. This work became possible thanks to the help of Krzysztof Margasiński, whose article inspired the creation of this page.

World War I:

Rare photograph of the 4th Railway Battalion's armoured train in its earliest shape, without machine gun loopholes. The locomotive is believed to be Ya class. [source: www.photo-war.com]
The same view of armoured train of Special Duty Naval Regiment with modifications introduced in 1915. This photograph was often published in slightly retouched version, as Minsk revolutionary train, but it has no anchors painted yet and has original locomotive, what indicates 1915 year.

In autumn 1914, the Central Powers launched an offensive on Polish territories annexedW by Russia, repelled by Imperial Russian army near Warsaw. To face the new threat, at the beginning of November 1914, an improvised broad-gauge armored train was built in workshops of Russian 4th Railway Battalion in Kozłówka (now LegionowoW), by an order of the 6th Siberian Rifle Division's commander. Its core consisted of two large steel four-axle coal wagons of the French type Fox-Arbel (built in France or Russia), with raised superstructure walls, fitted with 20 loopholes for rifles on each side and five in front walls. They were only provisionally covered with wood from the inside, while the upper part was built of timber and covered with steel plates [note 1]. Also wagons' bogies were protected with fixed steel plates. According to M. Kolomiets, the train was completed with one smaller two-axle wagon in addition[3], but apparently it is a mistake with a different train, described below. It is also widely believed, that there was adapted Russian Ya (Я) class 1'C (1-3-0) passenger locomotive, protected with high sloping steel plates, but the photographs make it difficult to verify and we suspect it might have been similar N (Н) class locomotive[note 2]. The crew was 102. The commander was initially Staff Captain Vasilyev from the 7th Finland Rifle Regiment, but before 12 November he was replaced by Capt. A. Savalyev from the 4th Railway Battalion[2]. It was referred to as the "armoured train of the 4th Railway Battalion" and was the second Russian armoured train, after normal-gauge train of the 9th Railway Battalion, built in August 1914 in Galicia.

The train entered action on 10 November 1914 at KoluszkiW station, after which it was immediately sent against the Germans, who launched an offensiveW towards Łódź on 11 November. Already on 12 November it participated in fighting. Although the train's initial armament consisted of rifles only, it broke an attack of German infantry and chased them to Koluszki station on 19 November, and helped the 6th Siberian Division to recapture Koluszki on 23 November. (Contrary to general statements in publications, it does not seem that the armament of the train included machine guns at that time, unless placed on some open positions).

Armoured train of the 4th Railway Battalion reconstruction (based on a drawing by Arthur Przeczek).

The train was next withdrawn to Ivangorod fortress (now: DęblinW), where it was taken over by Naval Special Duty Regiment. The regiment was composed of Baltic Fleet sailors commanded by General-Major G. Mazurov, and fought in the Western Front. The train's armament was strengthened there with two 37 mm Hotchkiss naval guns in wagons' end walls and eight machine guns (presumably 7.62 mm Maxim M.1910) with loopholes in lower side walls. The ammunition for the guns was 200 cartridges. The crew was 80, but it is possible, that it concerns sole number of riflemen. Probably at that time observation turrets were added at the outer edges of the wagons and the roofs were adapted for lying of soldiers (with low sandbag bulwarks?). According to an older publication by M. Kolomiets, the third similar Fox-Arbel wagon was added at that time[2], but he did not repeat it in the newer publication, while the crewman's report indicates that the train still consisted of two wagons. From then on, it was referred to as an "armoured train of the Special Duty Naval Regiment" (бронепоезд Морского полка особого назначения, bronepoezd Morskogo polka osobogo naznacheniya).

In Russian publications this photograph is captioned as Special Duty Naval Regiment armoured train with Ya class steam locomotive in summer of 1915; there also exists a photograph of the locomotive alone captioned so. This caption is apparently incorrect, and this train is a different unit, not described in publications so far, because the wagons have different superstructures and details, and the locomotive undoubtedly is not Ya (Я) 1-3-0 class, but 2-2-0 fast train locomotive – the details indicate PRР) class (Kolomna works type 83), thirteen of which were built for the Warsaw-Vienna RailwayW. This locomotive has been correctly identified for the first time on our page. Moreover, a photograph of the same train was published in a Russian newspaper from the era with a caption, that this train performed many outstanding deeds on RigaW front(!). It might have been constructed for Ust-Dvinsk fortressW and, judging from other photographs, might have some connection with the train of the 5th Siberian Railway Battalion. The locomotive type suggests, that it was constructed in Warsaw vicinity, perhaps by the same 4th Railway Battalion, however. A small wagon resembles German designs and might have been captured. A photograph of the same wagon is also erroneously captioned in Paul Malmassari's exhaustive book as the train of the 4th Battalion.

Naval Regiment armoured train locomotive with final armour (captioned as after refit in September 1915. [4]
Naval Regiment train's wagon destroyed in March 1916. According to M. Kolomiets, there is an anchor emblem on the left side of superstructure.

On 12 July 1915, the modified train was ready, and a week later it went into action to defend Ivangorod Fortress, covering withdrawing Russian units. On 19 July alone, the train underwent six raids from the fortress in directions of Radom and Kozienice, fighting against Austrian infantry and cavalry. The commander was Lieutenant Mukhin then. However, Russian troops were forced to withdraw from Ivangorod on 22 July (old style). The train was then directed to BrestW, where on 8 August it was taken over and refitted by the 4th company of the 3rd Railway Battalion. During the retreat from Brest, on 16 August, the train fought against the Germans near KobrynW. The train then returned to the Special Duty Naval Regiment (a Brigade from mid-1916). Perhaps during this period its locomotive received new full armor (according to an older publication, already in September 1915[4]). Around that time at the latest, characteristic marine emblems in a form of painted pale blue anchors[1] appeared on the wagons (according to M. Kolomiets, white, but this seems less likely, because they contrast too weakly on some of the photographs). The train received number 4 in the Western Front (also known as number 4M, from Morski – Marine).

On 10 March 1916, during a battle near Lake NarochW in Belarus, the train was ambushed by German artillery, and one of its original wagons was destroyed[2] (more recent publication mentions even two wagons – it is unclear, which[3]). Until November 1916, the train was refitted in GomelW and probably at that time it was completed with another similar four-axle wagon, differing in division of steel plates on superstructure sides and a number of loopholes (18 in the sides and four in the front wall). According to A. Przeczek, the new wagon was also slightly lower. As a result, the train still consisted of two wagons built upon Fox-Arbel coal wagons and a steam locomotive described as the Ya class.

In June 1917, after the February RevolutionW in Russia, the supreme command of the Russian army at the request of the Western Front command transferred the train from the Naval Brigade to the 10th Railway Battalion (in short: 10-й желбат, 10th zhelbat). Despite this, the "armoured train of the 10th Railway Battalion" remained unused until autumn due to a lack of qualified artillerymen and machine gunners in the battalion[3].

October Revolution and civil war in Russia:

After the Bolshevik October RevolutionW, the crew, agitated on 29 October (old style) by podpraporshchik (Sergeant Major) Vasiliy Prolygin, arrested officers, and joined the Bolshevik side. Then the train, led by Prolygin, who was an engine driver, arrived at MinskW at night of 2 November 1917, and its presence played an important role in establishment of Bolshevik power in the city against other revolutionary factions. According to Soviet literature, the crew had already named the train after Lenin and painted his name in chalk on the wagons by that time[7]. Nevertheless, later photographs indicate only, that the train was simply named: "Revolutionary train" (Революціонный поѣзд, Revolutsyonnyi poezd). It participated next, among others, in arresting of the Front staff in Mogilov. In January 1918 the train received an additional armoured wagon, originally armed with two 76.2 mm anti-aircraft M.1914 Lender guns, taken over from the 3rd independent railway anti-aircraft battery. Such wagons were a typical design built at the Putilov Fatory in Petrograd (St. Petersburg), also on a four-axle Fox-Arbel wagon chassis, with central low armoured casemate and two open emplacements at the ends. It is not clear, however, if the wagon had functional armament, because subsequent photographs show it without cannons. Russian publications also generally mention, that 37 mm guns in original wagons' end walls were replaced with 76.2 mm field guns M.1902, but it seems that this happened only after fighting near Zhlobin in February-March 1918.

A sketch of a combat area near Zhlobin.

In February 1918, the train was supporting the Bolshevik 8th Rifle Division in Minsk area. It operated near ZhlobinW against German Ober Ost forcesW, and Polish 1st CorpsW units operating from BobruiskW. Its potential opponent was Polish improvised armoured train "Związek Broni", operating on Bobruisk – Zhlobin route, although there were no direct clashes between trains (according to Polish account, difficult to verify, a clash with a strong Bolshevik train was avoided by blowing a bridge ahead of it, on the Dobosna River near Krasny Bereg, between Bobruisk and Zhlobin). It is not clear, what was the armament of the Soviet train at that time, but in fact, in a possible artillery duel, the Polish train could have been even stronger, with a 76.2 mm cannon on frontal flatcar, while the Bolshevik train was only slightly better protected against small arms fire and splinters... After Bolshevik retreat behind the Dnieper river at the turn of February and March 1918 and the conclusion of the Brest peace with central states (18 February / 3 March 1918), the train was sent for repairs in BryanskW.

Further information about the train's fate is unfortunately divergent and its identity becomes uncertain. There is an information, that former train of the 10th zhelbat was renamed in early 1918 as the "Minsk communist armoured train named after Lenin" (Минский коммунистический бронепоезд имени Ленина, Minskiy kommunistichesky bronepoezd imeni Lenina – several variations of this name exist)[note 4]. However, according to Soviet publications, its wagons were wrecked in fighting against Germans and "Haidamakas" (Ukrainians) near Zhlobin in February 1918, after which the train went to Bryansk for "new armouring"[3]. Details are unfortunately not known. According to V. But, the train was later refitted at the Krasnoye Sormovo plantW in Nizhny Novgorod in July 1918, and its steam locomotive was replaced then with the first OV class locomotive armoured in this plant (this design became typical for further Soviet trains). The original fully armoured locomotive referred to as Ya class was next given to the famous train No. 6 "Putilovtsy – by the name of comrade Lenin", where it kept painted anchors.

The "Revolutionary train" with the name painted on leading wagon, already fitted with 76.2 mm M.1902 cannon in an enlarged front opening. Further on, there is anti-aircraft wagon of Putilov works, apparently lacking cannons. There seems to be Maxim M.1910 HMG positioned above a side cover. The locomotive is unarmoured or only partially armoured freight class (possibly O class). The photo was probably taken in the second half of 1918 on the Trans-Siberian Railway, which is supported by a presence of a wagon from Omsk in the background. An untidy Cyrillic inscription "8 St.D" (for 8th Rifle Division) has been clearly added to the photograph (another shot with the inscription elsewhere is known). Original anchor emblems are visible on the front wall and side wall before the name (presumably also symmetrically after the name).
The train from rear, captured by the Polish. There is visible 76.2 mm M.1902 cannon in Diamond type wagon, and the second such MG wagon.
The "Revolutionary train" from front, shortly after capturing by the Poles, without Polish names yet. Two paintings on the superstructure are hardly visible - the front one overpainted the anchor, and the rear one partially covered it. A dome of the locomotive seems to be removed or shot off and lying aside.

The above information about the wreckage of the train's wagons near Zhlobin in 1918 led M. Kolomiets to erroneous conclusion that two wagons were captured by the Polish then – which occurred only a year and a half later. According to K. Margasiński, German troops temporarily captured one wagon of the train. Indeed, there are photographs of the "Revolutionary train's" newer Fox-Arbel leading wagon in German hands, before fitting with a 76.2 mm cannon, along with an unidentified locomotive (perhaps unarmoured) and another ordinary or provisionally protected covered wagon. However, the armoured wagon certainly found its way back into Soviet (and then Polish) hands somehow – probably even before German surrender in November 1918, as it was later rearmed with a 76.2 mm cannon and probably used in fighting in Siberia.

According to Soviet sources, the train took part in the suppression of the left-SR uprisingW in Moscow in July 1918. The "Minsk communist armoured train..." was then subordinated to the 1st Army and directed to Siberia, where it participated in battles along the Trans-Siberian railroadW near Syzran and Simbirsk in autumn 1918, against "white" forces of Admiral Kolchak and interventionist forces (mainly the Czechoslovak LegionW withdrawing eastwards). During Simbirsk operationW, the train named after Lenin, commanded by S. Gulinski, captured a bridge on the Volga, contributing to the capture of Lenin's home town Simbirsk on 12 September 1918. During fighting in Siberia, apparently two further improvised armoured wagons were added – perhaps captured from the "white" army – created by an adaptation of large American four-axle Diamond type coal wagons[1]. One of them served as rear artillery wagon, with a 76,2 mm M.1902 cannon in end position and two side machine guns loopholes, and the other as an infantry wagon, with four machine guns loopholes. They were constructed in a similar way to Fox-Arbel wagons, with superstructures built of thick wood – railway sleepers. A protection was a layer of wood and maybe concrete. It is not known what happened to the second original wagon of the naval train (K. Margasiński suspects, that it might have been attached to another train, lost on the Polish front in September 1919).

According to Russian publications, in December 1918 the "Minsk communist armoured train..." was moved to the southern front, fighting against "white" Volunteer Army in Donbass and North Caucasus from then on. Authors, like I. Drogovoz and V. But, do not mention any participation of the train in war with Poland in 1919, but they say instead that in February 1920 it was captured by the white forces, after which it was abandoned during an evacuation from Novorossiysk and regained by the Bolsheviks in April[5,6]. According to a book by M. Kolomiets devoted to "white" trains, four trains were captured on 7 February near Rostov, including "Tovarishch Lenin - No. 1-i" (Comrade Lenin - No. 1), and they were used to form the "white" trains, left in Novorossiysk on 13 March. The identity of the train might evoke some question, given that there existed several trains named after Lenin at the same time. According to the authors cited above, the "Minsk communist train..." was then used against Gen. Wrangel's troops in Crimea, and on 16 December 1920 was renamed as the "First communist armoured train type A named after Lenin". After the civil war, it served in the North Caucasus Military District and took part in fighting against insurgents in North Caucasus. In April 1922 it was transferred to the West Front and soon dismantled[5,6].

It is difficult to reconcile the above information – provided it is true and applies to this particular train – with the fact that in October 1919 the train comprising some of wagons of the 10th zhelbat's "Revolutionary train" was captured by Polish forces on the Western Front. However, there are no sources in fact, that the captured train was "Minsk communist armoured train named after Lenin". Such name is not visible on photographs – although it did not have to be painted, but it was usually the rule, especially with such an outstanding patron. Polish descriptions do not mention such name, either painted, or emerging from documents. The captured train still bore the original name "Revolutionary Train" carefully painted on the leading Fox-Arbel wagon – but it appears that this name had been also handwritten on at least one of the new cars, acquired later. It cannot be excluded that the original rolling stock of the "Minsk communist train..." was replaced with a new one in 1919, and original 10th zhelbat's wagons went to another train. It might have even occurred after fights for Żłobin in early 1918, which corresponds with a mention of new armouring in Bryansk. The stay of the "Revolutionary train" in Siberia is supported by the photograph taken next to a wagon from Omsk, and the fact, that the captured train had a flatcar from Tomsk railway direction, and also Diamond type wagons were typical for trains operating there. However, it might not necessarily have been the train named after Lenin, famous for taking of Simbirsk in September 1918. In fact, it is not known, what train was called the "Minsk communist armored train named after Lenin" in 1918-1922, because there are no detailed descriptions nor photographs in the literature, and this subject is poorly researched by Russian authors so far...

Capture by the Polish

The train from rear, shortly after its capture, without Polish names. On Diamond type wagon on the left there is probably visible a part of handwritten name "[Rev]olutsyonny[i poezd]".
Unique quality frontal photograph, with Polish name written. Upon a Soviet propaganda painting of unknown theme there is a small inscription: "Smert tir[anom?]" (Death to the tir[ans?]). To the left there is illegible red slogan, further: some silhouette and, in a middle of the wagon, Polish eagle. Noteworthy are wooden blocks on the inside of hatches. A cannon has been replaced with German 7.7 cm FK 96n/A. It seems, that Polish name was overpainted on the second wagon.
Early photograph of the left side shows an interesting mix of Bolshevik name "Revolutsyonnyi poezd" on leading wagon and Polish "Generał Konarzewski" on the locomotive and last wagons. Note a camouflage of trees.
The train from rear, probably in the same period, as above.
Clearly visible Diamond type machine gun wagon and N-class locomotive. Unfortunately, unknown original inscriptions have been overpainted on the wagon. On the tender, below Polish name there is Soviet Russian national marking: R.S.F.S.R. [Photo [1] from P. Handke col.]
Similar view as above. One might wonder, if a patched dent in artillery wagon's superstructure was caused by Polish artillery.
Late photograph with a name painted on anti-aircraft wagon as well. Previously the wagon was marked only with letter A. On the leading wagon, the anchor is partly visible under a painting.

In the autumn of 1919, the train was directed to the western front, acting again in Bobruisk region from Zhlobin, where it was active a year and a half earlier. This time, its enemies were soldiers of independent Poland, during Polish-Soviet warW. Bobruisk was captured on 28 August 1919 by the 1st Division of Greater PolandW Riflemen (1 Dywizja Strzelców Wielkopolskich), and on 1 September Polish troops also captured a bridgehead on the left – eastern bank of the BerezinaW to protect the city from artillery fire from the other bank. The bridgehead was the object of Soviet attacks, supported by armoured trains of the 16th Army, including the hero of our article. In order to expand the bridgehead, on 15 October the Greater Poland Group attacked from the bridgehead, under the command of General Daniel Konarzewski. It might be noted, that only in late 1919 Greater Poland Army (Wojsko Wielkopolskie) was formally merged with Polish Army (Wojsko Polskie). On 16 October, the 3rd Battalion of the 3rd Greater Poland Rifles Regiment (later 57 Infantry Regiment) and the 8th battery of the 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, surprised the armoured train returning from the night shelling of Polish positions. The Poles set up an ambush near Plessy village and unscrew the tracks there. The fight took place between Vavulichy and Rynia stations (currently the villages of Dubovka and Kovali)[note 5]. The battle participant described: then to the right in the forest single shots can be heard, followed by a prolonged, dry machine gun bang... The sound of machine guns is getting closer, a thin smoke trail appears above the forest, and after a moment, green-gray body of the Bolshevik armoured train emerges from behind trees. According to an anonymous account, one cannon grenade exploded inside the machine gun wagon, killing the crew, and other grenade broke the steam engine boiler, after which the train was captured by Polish soldiers. The remaining crew were taken prisoner. On the Polish side there were also a number of dead and wounded[1]. It may be noted, that erroneous dates September 16 or November 16 are also encountered.

Polish train P.P.24 "Generał Konarzewski"

The captured train was towed towards Bobruisk, manned by a crew of 60 soldiers of the 3rd Greater Poland Riflemen Regiment, and informally named "Generał Konarzewski", in honor of the commander of the Wielkopolska Group, General Daniel Konarzewski. Lieutenant Adolf Łojkiewicz became the commander. At the turn of November and December 1919, the train was taken over by the crew from the Armoured Train Squadron of Greater Poland Army (trains: "Danuta", "Rzepicha" and "Goplana"), under the command of Squadron's commander Major Włodzimierz Dołęga-Dziakiewicz[1]. On 2 December 1919, the train was blessed during a religious ceremony, and officially named "Generał Konarzewski" (also known as "Generał Konarzewski 1. Dywizji Strzelców Wielkopolskich" – General Konarzewski of the 1st Greater Poland Riflemen Division). In February 1920, the train along with the Greater Poland Army was merged with the Polish Army. However, it was not included in a list of regular armoured trains and not given a number initially. The train consisted of four original wagons and N class unarmored steam locomotive – it is not known whether it was the locomotive captured with the train or in another place on the bridgehead (it was not possible to deliver the locomotive from Bobruisk due to the destruction of the bridge)[note 6]. On the locomotive and wagons the name "Generał Konarzewski" was painted, separated with a red shield with Polish eagle, with a smaller annotation: "1 Dyw. Strzelców Wielkopolskich" (1st Div. of Greater Poland Riflemen).

The "Generał Konarzewski" took part in the defense of 15 km wide and 30 km long bridgehead on eastern bank of the Berezina, operating only on one available section of Bobruisk – Gomel railway line, to the village of Kovali (23 km from the Berezina). According to K. Margasiński, it even reached Krasny Bereg station (about 40 km – it was a line on which the "Związek Broni" train operated two years earlier). On the Soviet side, two or three stronger armoured trains operated there, but there were no clashes known. Already from February 1920, Polish military railway authorities postulated a liquidation of the train after the reconstruction of the bridge in Bobruisk due to its low combat value, which ultimately did not happen. Its commander, who was opposing plans to reduce the crew, was replaced with Leutenant Grzegorz Lubicz-Zalewski eventually. On 17 March 1920 the train was assigned to the 4th Army. Also in March 1920, the train was temporarily given the number 8 (after the train "Wilk"), then number 24 (P.P. 24 Pociąg pancerny nr 24). It operated on the bridgehead until the Soviet offensive in July 1920. During the retreat of Polish troops, due to the impossibility of evacuation, the wagons of "Generał Konarzewski" were blown up on 9 July 1920, and the locomotive was pushed off the destroyed bridge to Berezina[1].

It was not the end of the train's name, because also in July a standard gauge train P.P. 24 "Generał Konarzewski" was created in Bobruisk of the rolling stock of the Greater Poland Armoured Train Squadron (P.P.17 "Rzepicha", previously merged with "Goplana"), manned by part of the broad-gauge "Konarzewski" crew. The commander was still Lieutenant Grzegorz Lubicz-Zalewski, then Capt. Adam Ciećkiewcz (formerly from P.P.19 "Śmiały-szeroki") and Lieutenant Włodzimierz Matzner (formerly from P.P.1 "Piłsudczyk"). It covered a retreat of the 14th Infantry Division and in August 1920 was dismantled in Warsaw[1].

Train composition:

A composition of the train right after its capture by the Polish and in Polish service:

"Generał Konarzewski" armoured train reconstruction. Author: Arthur Przeczek.


You can mail me with question or comments – corrections, photographs or additional information are welcome. Especially we are interested to hear opinions of Russian armoured train researchers.

Our thanks to Krzysztof Margasiński and Arthur Przeczek.



Notes:

1. There is no precise information on the protection of the wagons. K. Margasiński wrote (probably after an older article by M. Kolomiets[4]) that it was armour plates 7-12 mm thick, reinforced with concrete. However, according to more recent works by M. Kolomiets[2,3], the wagons were initially only covered with "wooden planks" from the inside (presumably thick ones, maybe beams or railway sleepers). This is more likely, and armour steel seem excluded at all, as a material generally inaccessible to military units. Steel sides of original wagons with characteristic embossments were not covered with anything from the outside. The superstructures of the wagons were probably made of thick wood and covered with regular steel (not armour) plates. After the capture, the train in its late composition was described by Polish railway authorities as "badly protected", with protection made of wood.

2. The literature commonly states (after M. Kolomiets?) that the train of the 4th Railway Battalion used Ya (Я) class passenger steam engine from the beginning to 1918, but it is not clear whether this results from the documents, or is just a supposition. Our doubts are raised by the fact that locomotives of this class in peacetime service were not used by Russian railways west of Białystok. It is difficult to unambiguously verify the steam engine class on the available photographs due to the complete sheeting of the boiler. Axle arrangement 1-3-0 (2-6-0 or 1'C) seems to fit. Locomotives of this class, however, had a characteristically bevelled upper chimney edge as a rule. In our opinion, a steam locomotive of more common N class, with the same axle arrangement, may be more likely, especially that NVВ) and Nvв) classes were used on St. Petersburg - Warsaw Railway and Vistula Railways, and could be easily found near Warsaw. In our opinion it also suits the shape and location of the chimney better. It should be noted by the way, that the use of a passenger, not freight locomotive, was quite unusual for armoured trains, but perhaps it was due to availability.

3. "At Krasny Bereg, when our pathetic armoured train parody was attacked by a well-set Bolshevik armoured train, before which it was necessary to blow up the track, and Bickford's rope got wet, [Sgt.] Pająk jumped to the lineman's booth for a burning wood. He carried it in a bare hand, while the Bolshevik armoured train was closing, firing machine guns. Under fire, Pająk blew up the bridge, but he had to cure several weeks in a hospital" – Melchior Wańkowicz, Strzępy epopei. Possibly it concerns blowing-up of the bridge over the Dobysna in Krasnyi Bereg on 12 or 13 February 1918.

4. Different variations of the train's name are used in publications, and it seems, that it was not firmly established:
- "Minsk communist armoured train named after comrade Lenin" (Minskiy kommunisticheski bronepoezd imeni tov. Lenina),
- "Minsk communist armoured train named after V.I. Lenin" (Minskiy kommunisticheski bronepoezd imeni V.I. Lenina),
- train Nr. 1 "Minsk communist named after Lenin" (Minskiy kommunisticheski imeni Lenina),
- "1st Minsk armoured train named after Lenin" (1-i Minskiy bronepoezd imeni Lenina) (used in crew's letter from 24 August 1918).
It should be noted, that there were more bolshevik trains named after Lenin used at the same time.

5. The train was captured, according to Polish descriptions, between the stations Vavulichy and Rynia - the current villages of Dubovka (in Belarussian: Dubauka) and Kovale (Kavali). The station next to the village of Dubovka is now called Savichy (from the village located on the opposite side of the tracks), while the station Rynia (now Telusha, in Belarussian: Tsalusha) is in fact located in the village of Kovale (Kavali), not in the village of Rynia located about 8 km north of the tracks, nor in the village of Telusha (Tsalusha) located on the railway line between Dubovka and Kovale (3 km from Dubovka and 8 km from Kovale). The village of Plessy is located between Kovale and Telusha. The old Vavulichy in the Bobruisk region should not be confused with the village of this name in Drahichyn region. (A map of the region)

6. It is not clear from where the locomotive used in "General Konarzewski" originated. If anonymous account published in Polish interwar press is trustworthy, and the locomotive had pierced boiler with steam coming out, it would certainly not be repairable in non-factory conditions. On the other hand, the possibility of obtaining another locomotive on the bridgehead could have been limited, while the locomotive could not be delivered from Bobruisk due to the destruction of the bridge. In earliest photos, perhaps taken shortly after capture, you can see the same N class steam engine, but apparently with a broken off (dismantled?) steam collector dome lying on the right side of the boiler. Perhaps it was its original steam locomotive and it could have been an effect of artillery shelling. This would mean that the Soviet train had unarmoured locomotive, which could have happened in the absence of an armoured locomotive available. Damage to the steam collector only could be easier to repair, although it seems doubtful whether it could have been repaired outside of the workshop - especially if the collector was damaged by the artillery shell. Perhaps the damage to the locomotive was not really serious, or it was possible to replace it with another locomotive of the same N class.


Sources:
1. Krzysztof Margasiński, Artur Przęczek: Szerokotorowy pociąg pancerny "Generał Konarzewski" 1. Dywizji Strzelców Wielkopolskich (1) i (2), "Świat Kolei" nr. 9/2019 i 10/2019
2. Maksim Kolomiets: Bronya Russkoi Armii. Broneavtomobili i bronepoezda w Pervoi mirovoi voinie; Moscow, 2008
3. Maksim Kolomiets: Russkie bronepoezda Pervoi Mirovoi. "Stalnyie kreposti" v boiu; Moscow, 2013
4. Maksim Kolomiets: Pociągi Pancerne Armii Rosyjskiej 1914 - 1917, "Militaria" Vol.1 Nr 4 (1993)
5. Władimir But: Na frontah grazhdanskoi voiny. Bronepoezda "krasnyh". Chast 1; "Nauka i Tehnika" 5/2012
6. Igor Drogovoz: Kreposti na kolesach: Istoria bronepoezdov; Mińsk, 2002
7. N. Akulov: Bronepoezd vyshol v boi; "Sovetskiy Voin" nr 7/1971



[ Main page » Polish armour » armoured trains ] [ Polish artillery ] [ Steel Panthers page ] [ Links ] Po polsku


All photos and pictures remain the property of their owners, unless they are public domain due to age They are published in non-commercial educational and research purpose.
Text copyright: Michal Derela © 2019

бронепоезд Морского полка особого назначения

Минский коммунистический бронепоезд имени Ленина