Jump to content


Remembered Today:

Photo

Armoured Trains


63 replies to this topic

#1 De Petrowski Alexander

De Petrowski Alexander

    Second Lieutenant

  • Members2
  • 83 posts

Posted 20 November 2005 - 04:26 PM

The Belgian Army used armoured trains from late august 1914 to march 1915.
There were six trains operational during that period.

The first train was a mortar train, it was equipped wit a old style black powder 210mm mortier (range 3700m) taken from the Antwerp redoute of Blauwgaren. It was operational from 28 august, commanded by Lt Valentin. It fought at Waarloos en Rozendaal. After the retreat to the Ijzer (Yser) it operated on the line Nieuwpoort - Kaaskerke, Kaaskerke being occupied by the French Fusiliers Marins of Admiral Ronarch, who requested to fire only at night, since the black powder clouds, visible after each shot, attracted too many German Artillery, no direct hits were ever suffered. It operated until it's mortar rounds finally ran out, retreated to Calais and dismantled.

Two lightly armoured trains were build in Antwerp in september 1914, a third never became operational, eqquipped with one 57mm and three MG's, they operated mainly around Ghent, an armoured Recce Loc always preceeded them, they were used for Recce, hauling supplies from dangerous area's, blowing bridges, railway-protection, attacking advanced German cavalry, Infantry, cyclists and Artillery units.
Nr. 1 was commanded by Lt Michel (replaced later when WIA by Lt Gouttiere), Nr. 2 by Lt Delaval, Nr. 1 was lost near the Rupel River at Ghent when Belgian Engineers had already blown the bridge, having destroyed the train and the cannon, Lt Gouttiere and crew took the MG's and crossed the Rupel by other means, being picked up by Lt. Delaval's train. Nr. 2 operated until the 22th of october near Diksmuide (Dixmude) then retreated to Calais and dismantled, it's armoured Type 32 Loc was later used to pull a British 240mm Railway Gun.

Three heavily armoured trains (Brit-Belgian) were build in Antwerp during september and october, Winston Churchill decided in early september to reinforce Antwerp with British Naval Guns, on the 9th, LtCdr Littlejohns arrived in Antwerp with six (4.7 Inch) and two (6 Inch) Guns + six Gunners. It was decided by the Belgian HQ to put them on armoured trains, CO of the armoured trains became LtCdr Littlejohns, each crew consisting of 70 Belgian volunteers + two machinists + 2 British Gunners, the first was ready on the 15th, with three 4.7 Inch Guns (CO Belgian Capt Servais), , the second (also three 4.7 Inch) was ready on the 27th, (CO British Lt Robinson) they fought around Antwerp until the 7th of october, then retreated via Ghent, supported General Rawlinson's advance to Ypres, the third train (two 6 Inch) became operational (CO British Lt Ridler) at Oostende after the retreat from Antwerp. They fought between Nieuwpoort (Nieuport) and La Bassee until late march 1915 when all three were withdrawn, They were known from 9th of november onwards as (His Majesty's Armoured Train)
H.M.A.T. "Churchill" (Lt Ridler) two 6 Inch Guns
H.M.A.T. "Deguise" (Capt Servais) three 4.7 Inch
H.M.A.T. "Jellicoe" (LtCdr Littlejohns) three 4.7 Inch
They stood still at the station of Marquise from april to september 1915 and were then dismantled.
there is a more detailed story at this Site (It is in Dutch)
http://www.wfa-belgi...ikels/trein.htm

Who can tell me something about the Armoured trains in use with the other Entende and the Central powers in this war ?

#2 De Petrowski Alexander

De Petrowski Alexander

    Second Lieutenant

  • Members2
  • 83 posts

Posted 30 November 2005 - 06:31 PM

I am in possession of a CD with the original report on it written by LtCdr Littlejohn in 1915, for those interested, let me know

#3 MTorrent

MTorrent

    Lance-Corporal

  • Members2
  • 5 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 22 October 2011 - 12:26 PM

I am in possession of a CD with the original report on it written by LtCdr Littlejohn in 1915, for those interested, let me know


This is already an old subject, but I wonder if it would be possible to see/have this report. I would be very much interested...

#4 centurion

centurion

    General

  • Old Sweats
  • 24,047 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Marches
  • Interests:Military history, science fiction

Posted 22 October 2011 - 01:27 PM

From the Central Powers the KuK were users of armoured trains
Attached File  atrainab.jpeg   67.47KB   4 downloads

&
Attached File  atraina.jpeg   64.52KB   3 downloads

#5 centurion

centurion

    General

  • Old Sweats
  • 24,047 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Marches
  • Interests:Military history, science fiction

Posted 22 October 2011 - 01:47 PM

The photos I posted above date from 1914. There is a 1915 reference to a Turkish armoured train trying to shoot it out with the RN at Gallipoli (RN 1 Armoured train 0)

#6 centurion

centurion

    General

  • Old Sweats
  • 24,047 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Marches
  • Interests:Military history, science fiction

Posted 22 October 2011 - 02:05 PM

An armoured train manned by Gurkha Rifles was used in the Western Desert against the Sennussi
Attached File  British W Desert.jpeg   73.48KB   1 downloads

#7 Rockdoc

Rockdoc

    Brigadier-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 2,558 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Derby, UK
  • Interests:Motorcycle touring, aquaria and ponds, family history

Posted 22 October 2011 - 04:09 PM

Ye Gods! The Austro-Hungarian train looks like something out of Flash Gordon! Was its commander General Ming, I wonder? :whistle:

The French had an armoured train in Salonika in 1916. I know very little about it beyond what is mentioned by the British AA subsections nearby but Centurion discussed it in a thread some time ago (two years, perhaps?) in the Salonika sub-forum.

Keith

#8 centurion

centurion

    General

  • Old Sweats
  • 24,047 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Marches
  • Interests:Military history, science fiction

Posted 22 October 2011 - 04:12 PM

Another KuK armoured train.
Attached File  panzer zug min.jpg   80.52KB   3 downloads

#9 NigelP

NigelP

    Major

  • Old Sweats
  • 365 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:North Yorkshire
  • Interests:The North & South Staffordshire Regiments and The Staffordshire Yeomanry.

Posted 22 October 2011 - 04:20 PM

Ye Gods! The Austro-Hungarian train looks like something out of Flash Gordon! Was its commander General Ming, I wonder? :whistle:

Keith


if you think that one is extreme have a look at the dreadlocked "Hairy Mary" of the Boer War http://iaaforum.org/...php?f=8&t=10476

Nigel

#10 centurion

centurion

    General

  • Old Sweats
  • 24,047 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Marches
  • Interests:Military history, science fiction

Posted 22 October 2011 - 06:03 PM

Nr. 2 operated until the 22th of october near Diksmuide (Dixmude) then retreated to Calais and dismantled, it's armoured Type 32 Loc was later used to pull a British 240mm Railway Gun.


The armour was "re cycled" for use in bridge strong points at the front. The loco was re armoured before being asssigned to a 9.2 inch battery.

#11 centurion

centurion

    General

  • Old Sweats
  • 24,047 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Marches
  • Interests:Military history, science fiction

Posted 22 October 2011 - 06:19 PM

Two British armoured trains were built in Crewe in 1915. These had a loco in the middle, two armoured infantry wagons and an armoured gun wagon (12 pounder and two Maxims) fore and aft. Originally designated Armoured Train No 1 and Armoured Train No 2 they were unofficially named Norma and Alice. They were used to protect the East Coast of England and Scotland (and communications and supply lines) against an anticipated German raid. They were scrapped in 1919. (In 1940 in anticipation of a German invasion 13 new armoured trains were built and crewed by Polish soldiers; interestingly these were armed with short 6 pounders, shields and all, from WW1 tank sponsons). The locos from Norma and Alice remained in railway service until nearly the end of steam.

#12 centurion

centurion

    General

  • Old Sweats
  • 24,047 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Marches
  • Interests:Military history, science fiction

Posted 22 October 2011 - 07:29 PM

By 1918 the KuK had nine heavy armoured trains (with artillery cars) and a number of light armoured trains (small arms only). 2 0f these were captured by nascent Czechslovakian (see link) forces and used in various actions such as the fighting against Hungary, 2 were captured by the Poles and used against the Red Army - the rest appear to have been blown up by their crews. One of the Czech trains was taken over by the Germans in 1939 and used against Tito's forces in 1942.
http://forum.axishis...d2c3509828cc624

#13 AussiesinArras

AussiesinArras

    Major

  • Old Sweats
  • 372 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Melbourne / Arras
  • Interests:Battlefields
    Steam Locomotives
    Underwater Wrecks

Posted 22 October 2011 - 09:22 PM

Great posts....luv it.


Tks, Peter

#14 centurion

centurion

    General

  • Old Sweats
  • 24,047 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Marches
  • Interests:Military history, science fiction

Posted 22 October 2011 - 10:42 PM

Just to put things in perspective the Russians still use armoured trains to protect the railway lines in and around Chechnya, similar trains have been(and may be still are) used by the Rusians in the Far East to protect freight from bandits. The last French armoured train was used in Indo China.(now Vietnam) when they produced an armoured train on the railroad operating between Ninh Hoa, Phan Tiet and Nha Trang. In February of that year (1948) a civilian train approaching Phan Tiet had been ambushed by Viet forces and all the passengers massacred. The armoured train was intended to safe guard the line. It was nicknamed Le Rafale and commanded by a Captain Raphanaud of the 2eREI (who had overseen its construction). The train had two locomotives and fourteen carriages which included an HQ car, a hospital car and a restaurant (well it was French after all and the basic amenities of civilisation must be maintained). Its armament included a turret with a 40 mm Bofors gun, two heavy mortars, a 20 mm cannon with an infrared night sight, eight twin machine guns and numerous grenade launchers. It was manned by over a hundred heavily armed legionnaires and anti communist partisans. It also carried railway lines and sleepers so as to be able to deal with any track damage. For six months the train was very successful in keeping the line clear, repelling any attacks made upon it, but then the Viet forces destroyed two bridges and trapped the train in the five kilometres of track between them. Although the Viet forces still could not take the train they had effectively neutralised it.

#15 centurion

centurion

    General

  • Old Sweats
  • 24,047 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Marches
  • Interests:Military history, science fiction

Posted 23 October 2011 - 07:34 PM

The Germans seem to have used armoured trains on the Western Front. Flight reports the bombing of one by the French in 1915.

Before looking at French use of armoured trains we need to look at what an armoured train actually is. We need to distinguish between armoured railway batteries and armoured trains proper - the two are often conflated, even in correspondence at the time. Armoured trains had armoured locomotives as well as trucks and were multi armed - usually carrying significant numbers of infantry as well as artillery. Some of the Belgian ones carried cyclist units. The Czech Legion ones on the Trans Siberian Railway even carried an aircraft on a flat bed truck (one made it back and is in a museum in the Czech Republic). Trotsky's and other early Red Army armoured trains carried elements of cavalry and some inter war Polish armoured trains carried light tanks (WW1 Renaults) on special trucks capable of being powered by the tank's motor and operating as an advanced scout when required. Railway batteries carried artillery and that was that. They were usually comprised of an engine and a number of artillery trucks. The artillery could not fire until the train was halted and stabilising jacks were extended. They would arrive at a pre planned point on the railway (usually fairly close to the front lines), halt, extend stabilisers and open fire on a predetermined target, retract stabilisers and be off before counter battery fire could be organised. What today would be called shoot and scoot. Disliked by the infantry who often copped the counter battery fire so provoked. The French made significant use of railway batteries. Some were part armoured and some fully. In this latter case this seems to have been aimed at protecting the crew from shrapnel and shell splinters rather than direct fire from the enemy infantry.
Attached File  cnp_train_turret_01.jpeg   69.19KB   1 downloads

#16 AussiesinArras

AussiesinArras

    Major

  • Old Sweats
  • 372 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Melbourne / Arras
  • Interests:Battlefields
    Steam Locomotives
    Underwater Wrecks

Posted 23 October 2011 - 08:32 PM

Centurion, would you please indulge me. I always wondered how they fired those big guns off a railway.

I considered about putting the brakes on but that would produce "wheel flats". Ok, the stabilsers would stop the train from rocking over beyond the central gravity point when fired but then they can only fire the gun from where they can get suitable ground adjacent to the rails. I have seen film clips of them firing and they certainly move back along the track...therefore, they would have to reset the gun to fire from a position now say, around six metres from where it was first fired. Had also thought that they could have used a series of chocks that would act as a brake directly onto the track or even anchors deployed out the front to dampen the recoil movement.

The next thing I could never work out is when picking the place to fire. Did the guns have a limited traverse motion or did they have to park it on a curve that would point the gun in the appropriate direction? Firing a big gun on a curve is not my idea of safety as it could assist a centre of gravity issue. If the track bed was a bit soft, I wonder if they could move, or even kink, the rails

Fascinating subject, best regards, Peter

#17 centurion

centurion

    General

  • Old Sweats
  • 24,047 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Marches
  • Interests:Military history, science fiction

Posted 23 October 2011 - 10:29 PM

Centurion, would you please indulge me. I always wondered how they fired those big guns off a railway.

I considered about putting the brakes on but that would produce "wheel flats". Ok, the stabilsers would stop the train from rocking over beyond the central gravity point when fired but then they can only fire the gun from where they can get suitable ground adjacent to the rails. I have seen film clips of them firing and they certainly move back along the track...therefore, they would have to reset the gun to fire from a position now say, around six metres from where it was first fired. Had also thought that they could have used a series of chocks that would act as a brake directly onto the track or even anchors deployed out the front to dampen the recoil movement.

The next thing I could never work out is when picking the place to fire. Did the guns have a limited traverse motion or did they have to park it on a curve that would point the gun in the appropriate direction? Firing a big gun on a curve is not my idea of safety as it could assist a centre of gravity issue. If the track bed was a bit soft, I wonder if they could move, or even kink, the rails

Fascinating subject, best regards, Peter

Depends on the gun. Some of the really big railway guns were allowed to recoil back along the track, which had frequently been laid as a spur specially for the gun (usually with a slight curve so that the direction in which the gun was pointed could be adjusted). With the railway batteries that I was talking about the guns were smaller and the gun's own recoil mechanism handled it all. On these the gun had some freedom of movement so it could be transversed (note on the picture I posted the guns are in turrets that move a bit). On some types of railway battery the guns were normally swivelled round to allow a sort of broadside (this was the case with the type used in Salonika)

#18 AussiesinArras

AussiesinArras

    Major

  • Old Sweats
  • 372 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Melbourne / Arras
  • Interests:Battlefields
    Steam Locomotives
    Underwater Wrecks

Posted 24 October 2011 - 11:27 AM

Hi Centurion,

Yes, never thought about a spur. Makes sense.

Keep up the great posts. Always good reading.

Tks, Peter

#19 centurion

centurion

    General

  • Old Sweats
  • 24,047 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Marches
  • Interests:Military history, science fiction

Posted 24 October 2011 - 12:59 PM

Hi Centurion,

Yes, never thought about a spur. Makes sense.

Keep up the great posts. Always good reading.

Tks, Peter

The French built a number of railway batteries by the process of taking some naval and obsolescent coast defence artillery pieces mounting and all and bolting them onto railway trucks. The navy 164 mm on a turntable complete with its open backed gun shield being used from 1915. Many of the coast defence guns used were howitzers so that they were fired at some elevation and much of the impact not absorbed by the recoil mechanism went down through the track and sleepers.

The French did use armoured trains for coastal defence - in much the same way as those used in Britain. There was a fear that the Germans might try to out flank the Western Front by a landing.

The Italians also used armoured trains for coastal defence against the KuK navy - mainly as a rapid response against raids conducted by destroyer sized vessels that could come well inshore. Fire does appear to have been exchanged.

#20 centurion

centurion

    General

  • Old Sweats
  • 24,047 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Marches
  • Interests:Military history, science fiction

Posted 24 October 2011 - 01:41 PM

The Italians also used armoured trains for coastal defence against the KuK navy - mainly as a rapid response against raids conducted by destroyer sized vessels that could come well inshore. Fire does appear to have been exchanged.

Further to this an Italian armoured Train exchanged fire with the German light Cruiser Heligoland and a KuK armoured cruiser, destroyer and three torpedo boats bombarding Ortona and San Vito on Feb 3rd 1916. In December 1916 an Italian armoured train damaged a KuK torpedo boat. I've seen various spellings of the town being bombarded Santel Pidio. Elpirito etc - anyone know what it was?

#21 centurion

centurion

    General

  • Old Sweats
  • 24,047 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Marches
  • Interests:Military history, science fiction

Posted 24 October 2011 - 03:09 PM

A French railway battery of the type I've described.

Attached File  FRB1.JPG   32.53KB   6 downloads

The 'armoured train' in Salonika would have looked like this

#22 Rockdoc

Rockdoc

    Brigadier-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 2,558 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Derby, UK
  • Interests:Motorcycle touring, aquaria and ponds, family history

Posted 24 October 2011 - 03:33 PM

Having been to Salonika recently and seen the trackbed of the line the train was recorded as being used on, it makes perfect sense for it to have been one like this. The line was on a slight embankment for much of its route and passed through quite a lot of marshy ground so there would be little prospect of anything larger being taken along it without damaging the fabric of then line, never mind what would have happened when it fired.

Keith

#23 centurion

centurion

    General

  • Old Sweats
  • 24,047 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Marches
  • Interests:Military history, science fiction

Posted 24 October 2011 - 04:24 PM

Centurion, would you please indulge me. I always wondered how they fired those big guns off a railway.

I considered about putting the brakes on but that would produce "wheel flats". Ok, the stabilsers would stop the train from rocking over beyond the central gravity point when fired but then they can only fire the gun from where they can get suitable ground adjacent to the rails. I have seen film clips of them firing and they certainly move back along the track...therefore, they would have to reset the gun to fire from a position now say, around six metres from where it was first fired. Had also thought that they could have used a series of chocks that would act as a brake directly onto the track or even anchors deployed out the front to dampen the recoil movement.

More detail, unlike their British and German equivalents, the big French rail guns had no recoil mechanism. The stabilisers rested on huge embedded beams parallel to the track. When the gun was in position the stabiliser screws were turned so that the weight of the gun was off the wheels entirely. When fired the gun would skid back on the beams and the wheels would merely ensure that it stayed lined up with the track. The weight of the gun and friction on the beams kept recoil to just under two metres. The jack screws were then turned until the wheels took the weight again and the gun pushed back to its firing position. After a lot of firing the trunnions cracked but by that time the barrel was pretty worn anyway.

#24 AussiesinArras

AussiesinArras

    Major

  • Old Sweats
  • 372 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Melbourne / Arras
  • Interests:Battlefields
    Steam Locomotives
    Underwater Wrecks

Posted 24 October 2011 - 11:37 PM

A French railway battery of the type I've described.

Attached File  FRB1.JPG   32.53KB   6 downloads

The 'armoured train' in Salonika would have looked like this



Quite right. I can see the stabilsers in the image , and how they were deployed.

Tks, Peter

#25 bob lembke

bob lembke

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 3,994 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Interests:The Great War - Mostly the land war - Mostly the German side - Mostly the Western Front Especially: Flame throwers, Special formations; Pioniere Sturm=Truppen Jaeger, usw.

Posted 25 October 2011 - 01:24 AM

The photos I posted above date from 1914. There is a 1915 reference to a Turkish armoured train trying to shoot it out with the RN at Gallipoli (RN 1 Armoured train 0)


Centurion;

You clearly know a lot about this fascinating topic, but I have to say I know a lot about the Central Powers side of Gallipoli, and (I am assuming that we are talking about the Gallipoli Penninsula in Europe) I am 99.9% sure that there was no rail line on the Gallipoli side, and no rail line probably within 100 km. Any rail traffic for Gallipoli was detrained something like 160 km away, and there was a miserable march. The Turkish situation would have been much better with a rail line.

Again, possibly something on the Asiatic side, but there I am only 98-99% sure. I have read a lot about the German and Turkish artillery efforts there.

Incidentally, my father saw the 24 cm k.u.k. Moto=Moersern in action at ANZAC in November, and was very impressed. They first came by rail from Northern Bulgaria (previously by steamer down the Danube), but again had to be de-trained a great distance away and driven there. They first planned to send the more well-known 30.5 cm Moto=Moersern, but an advance team of two k.u.k. artillery officers found the bridges so poor that they recommended sending the similar but lighter 24 cm motorized guns.

Bob Lembke