Bartosz Głowacki (Wojciech Bartosz or Bartos) (~1758 - 1794) was a peasant, who gained the glory leading a scythemen assault on Russian cannons in the battle of Racławice during Kosciuszko Insurrection in 1794. For his valour, Chief Tadeusz Kosciuszko promoted him to officer and honoured with a noble name "Głowacki".
The second Polish light armoured train of 1939 was train nr. 55 (former "Bartosz Glowacki"). This is the most "mysterious" unit of Polish regular armoured trains, for there are not any photos depicting the train in 1939 available. Fortunately, we have found a drawing, making a reconstruction of its look possible.
The original armoured train "Bartosz Glowacki" was created in 1920. In September 1920 it was assigned to the armoured trains' unit at a disposal of the 15th Infantry Division of the 4th Army (along with armoured train "Wilk" - the Wolf). It had number P.P. 20 then. Among others, the train was employed in the Army's attack on Volkovysk town. At that time it had 6 armoured wagons, with 2 guns and 10 MG's. It distinguished itself in an action on Polonki town. In December 1920, the train was assigned to the 2nd Army.
Bartosz Glowacki" in the early twenties, probably during the Polish-Soviet war. The first artillery wagon has a train's name painted on a side, and a gun's name: "Maryś" (Mary), painted on a turret. Note a camouflage, and partially armoured infantry wagons with high MG turrets in the background. Probably this artillery wagon, after modifications (cutting off the vertical edges to fit four MG ports, modifying the doors, etc.) was used in one of the Polish practice trains in the thirties. Later such captured modified wagons were used in German armoured trains: Panzerzug 21 and Panzerzug 22.
To move back in time, in the late 1919, the Polish Army intended to build several new wide-gauge armoured trains to use on the Soviet tracks of the captured area (the Russian track gauge was 1524 mm /5ft., instead of standard gauge 1435 mm used in the rest of Europe). These trains were to be built using captured Soviet wide-gauge flatcars and freight wagons, which were gathered in Warsaw in this purpose. Due to war events (the Polish withdrawal in the summer of 1920), the need of wide-gauge trains disappeared and this idea was abandoned. Finally some of this stock was used for building standard-gauge armoured wagons, according to a design by Armoured Trains Construction Management (KBPP) in Warsaw. Their distinguishing feature was a construction of rounded armour strips, giving them rounded, "half-barrel" shape in cross-section. Yet in 1920, such artillery wagons were used in "Pilsudczyk", "Paderewski" and "Hallerczyk" (photo). Such assault wagons were used in armoured trains: "Generał Sosnkowski", "Smialy" and "Poznańczyk" (in the latter two - in 1939). Finally, four such armoured wagons were given to train "Bartosz Głowacki", but the exact date is not known. Probably it was done in the twenties, only after the Polish-Soviet war. Probably they were three artillery wagons and an assault wagon, numbers: 630726 - 29.
After the Polish-Soviet war, "Bartosz Glowacki" was assigned for the further service, among 12 most modern trains, and it was given a number P.P. 10. In the winter of 1923/24, "Bartosz Glowacki" was demobilized and stored, along with most Polish armoured trains. Probably it was not brought back from reserve to active service before a mobilization in the summer of 1939. The final composition of only two artillery wagons and one assault wagon of the "Warsaw-built" type was probably established in 1929. In the late twenties or early thirties the train underwent some modernization, and its locomotive was changed to Ti3 type. Its armament was standardized (75mm wz.02/26 guns and wz.08 MG's), it received radio and signal equipment and AA machine guns. In the thirties, "Bartosz Glowacki" was assigned to the 2st Armoured Train Dywizjon (Unit) in Niepołomice, near Kraków.
In 1939, former "Bartosz Glowacki" was mobilized as pociąg pancerny nr 55 - armoured train nr. 55 (the names were not used officially anymore).
Combat use in 1939
Armoured train nr. 55 (former "Bartosz Glowacki") was commanded by Cpt. Andrzej Podgórski.
On 28 August 1939 the train was moved from Niepołomice to Tłuszcz town, where it remained until 3 September. Then, the train was assigned to the Reserve Army "Prusy" (Prussia), and during the next week it was remaining around Warsaw, being moved from one place to another (Koluszki, Skierniewice, Warszawa, Mińsk Mazowiecki, Siedlce, Łuków) along with armoured train nr. 53, without any combat orders, apart from patrolling the track Skierniewice-Żyrardów on 8 September. The trains were remaining without a contact with the enemy in that period, apart from air raids (since 4 September, train nr. 55 had to "share" its auxiliary section with train nr. 53, whose auxiliary section was bombed in a heavy air raid on Koluszki station). On 11 September the crew of "Bartosz Glowacki" found an abandoned 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun in Lukow, which, seated upon a flat-car, remarkably strengthened the train's AA defence.
Finally, both trains were moved to Brzesc-on-the-Bug fortress (now: Brest, Ukraine). The train first came into action on 14 September near Żabinka railway station, where a reconnaissance unit of the 3rd Panzer Division was reported. Four train's tankettes (of armoured draisines) were sent to attack the German armoured car platoon, that was standing on a bridge, but 3 tankettes were hit and destroyed (without crew losses, luckily). An attempt of using the train's assault platoon failed in the German cars' fire. Only the train's artillery made the enemy unit withdraw.
Soon after, the train, standing on a crossing, halted and made retreat a column of the division, burning a few vehicles. Taking cover behind a hill, a group of tanks of the 5th regiment made an attempt of cutting the train's way off, but the train's artillery foiled their movement. Next, the train was shelled by a battery of the 75th artillery regiment, and after about 45-min duel, it withdrew to Brzesc. One of the train's Renault tank draisines was damaged and left. In this combat, train nr. 55 succesfully managed to delay a movement of the German armoured division. Some German sources claimed even, that the train was destroyed in that skirmish.
Since the German units captured a part of Brzesc and a main railway station that day, the trains nr. 55 and 53 were ordered to move south. After a short rest in Kovel on 18 September 1939, they were ordered to Lwów (Lviv, now in Ukraine). On 19 September train, nr. 55 was supporting Polish troops of the 35th Infantry Division (Reserve) in a sortie from Lwow in order to get in contact with the approaching Gen. Sosnkowski's army. In that action, the train got under enemy artillery fire (of the 1st Mountain Div.), and suffered severe damage. The wagons and locomotive were damaged, though the casaulties were not high (2 killed and several injuried). The train was pulled out back with an oridnary locomotive, but was incapable of further fighting. Lwów surrendered on the 22nd September to the Soviet soldiers, which invaded Poland on the 17 September 1939, and have just approached the city in accordance with German-Soviet line of division of Poland. Both armoured trains, nr. 55 and nr. 53 were captured by the Soviets in the city.
This was not the end of the train's life, though. The Soviets repaired the train, and put into service as Бепо (Бронепоезд - armoured train) of the 58th NKVD Regiment (the NKVD armed forces were used as border security guards). It was probably used in the area of Lviv, its further fate is not known yet. Most probably it was destroyed or abandoned during the Soviet withdrawal in June-July 1941. According to W. Sawodny, the assault wagon of "Bartosz Glowacki" was captured in 1941 in Lviv, and used in the German train Panzerzug 10, created of ex-Soviet (former Polish) equipment.
Composition of armoured train nr. 55 in 1939
- an armoured section: (front) flatcar - artillery wagon - assault wagon - armoured locomotive - artillery wagon (2) - flatcar (end)
- a platoon of armoured draisines (scout rail vehicles)
- n unarmoured auxiliary section
The armoured train, as a military unit, consisted of: an armoured section, a platoon of armoured draisines and an unarmoured auxiliary section. Speaking of combat, by a phrase: "armoured train" I mean the armoured section of the train only. The auxiliary section was always acompanying the armoured section, when not involved in combat duties.
The standard locomotive for Polish armoured trains since 1927 was the armoured steam locomotive series Ti3 (former Prussian series G53, built in 1903-06). See more on a Ti3 page.
The locomotive used in "Bartosz Glowacki" was probably Ti3-14 (ex- G53-4052 Essen).
Upon a tender, there was a commander's turret, equipped with a short-range radio RKB/C to contact the draisines, and an intercom to contact the wagons. It also had some optical and sonic means of internal communication (color lights, bells and horns). Maximum speed of a locomotive with armoured wagons was about 45 km/h (28 mph).
A drawing of an artillery wagon of "Bartosz Glowacki", built in Warsaw. As it was described above, the train was equipped with three such wagons, probably after Polish-Soviet war. In 1939 the train should have only two artillery wagons, as other Polish trains. This drawing is a copy of some photograph (note, that the proportions are deformed), showing the wagon's look in the early thirties (AAMG turret added, early "sharp" camouflage).
The two artillery wagons of "Bartosz Glowacki" were of the same type, built in Poland over ex-Soviet two-axle flatcars, according to a design by KBPP in Warsaw. Each was armed with one 75mm wz.02/26 field gun (modified "3in" Putilov gun) in an end cyllindrical turret, rotating at about 270° (gun data). In the twenties, they had original guns 76.2mm wz.02. Other armament consisted initially of two machine guns in the sides and possibly one MG in a high turret (a drawing to the right shows the original wagon's look, nr 02006 of "Pilsudczyk"). In the late twenties or early thirties, the wagons were modified. Since then, they were armed with four 7.92mm wz.08 Maxim (MG-08) machine guns in standard cyllindrical mountings in the sides, and an anti-aircraft MG of the same type in a new roof turret (a maximum elevation was 90°). The ammunition carried in a wagon was probably 120 artillery rounds and 3,750 rounds per each MG (in 250-round belts). In the early twenties, these wagons were used in trains: "Pilsudczyk", "Paderewski" and "Hallerczyk".
The wagon was built of rounded armour strips, combined with trench shields with visors. The armour thickness was up to 20mm (source ), the sides might be covered with oak planks from the inside. Crew was probably about 15-17 men. Length was about 11.6 m
The assault wagon (Polish nomenclature) was intended for the transportation of an assault platoon. This photo depicts the assault wagon from armoured train nr. 55, captured by the Germans in 1941 in Lviv and used in armoured train Panzerzug 10 suspected, it was the wagon of train nr. 53 "Smialy"). In 1939 the same wagons were also used in trains nr. 53 and nr. 12 ("Poznańczyk"). They differed in a bottom armour skirt (in "Głowacki" - cut off, only the wheels covered, in "Śmiały" - full skirt, in "Poznańczyk" - partially cut-off). Moreover, this wagon has centrally placed doors.
The origin of this wagon was the same, as of artillery wagons (Polish-built in Warsaw upon ex-Soviet flatcar). The wagon had a two-leaf door in each side, and also doors in both end walls. It was armed with four 7.92mm wz. 08 MG's in the sides, the ammunition was 3,750 rounds per MG. The armour was the same as in artillery wagons. The assault platoon consisted of 32 men (1 officer, 7 NCO's, 24 soldiers, with 2 LMG's). The total wagon's crew was about 40 (with signalmen and stretcher-bearers).
Since the early thirties, the assault wagon was equipped with long-range radio RKD/P (range - up to 80km), placed in a separate radio cab in the middle of the wagon. The wagon was also fitted with a power generator, batteries and a large clothes line aerial on the roof (7 masts in two rows - the wagon on the photo has its aerials removed). Apart from the doors, the wagon also should have hatch in the bottom.
The wagon's length was 11.6 m, width: 3.15 m, height (without aerial masts): 4.7 m, axle track: 6.1 m, axle pressure up to 14 t.
Train no. 55 was a light armoured train, so the crew of armoured section was probably only about 90 men - the whole armoured train's crew was probably up to 140-150.
On both ends of the armoured train, there were two flatcars. Their primary function was to protect the armoured train against mines or a derailment. They were also adapted to carry engineering materials (tools, rails and sleepers, logs, explosives etc.) and also bicycles and motorcycles (part of it was carried on the auxiliary train's flatcars). As it was described above, during the campaign the train took 40mm wz.36 Bofors AA gun onto one flatcar.
The standard flatcar series Pdkz (type VIIIC or, less likely, VIIC) was two-axle. Weight - about 10 t, load capacity - 17.5 t, length - 13 m (511 in), wheelbase - 8 m (315 in).
Armoured draisines platoon
Each mobilized train had a platoon of armoured draisines (scout rail vehicles). In 1939, train nr. 55 had standard armoured draisines platoon, consisting of:
- two armoured draisines R (tanks Renault FT-17 on a rail chassis)
- four armoured draisines TK (tankettes TK or TKS on a rail chassis)
Draisines usually acted in two units, consisting of one draisine R and two draisines TK. All the tanks could be easily detached from their rail chassis' and then used for ground reconnaissance tasks. The fifth tankette TK or TKS was in reserve.
Each armoured train, considered as a military unit, also included an unarmoured auxiliary section (Polish name "skład gospodarczy"). The auxiliary section accompanied the combat section in operational movements and provided it with an accomodation and logistics support. It was manned by a platoon consisting of 1 officer, 21 NCO's and 26 soldiers. The length of the auxiliary section of the train was about 250 m (820 ft).
It consisted of: a locomotive, coaches for officers (2), NCOs (2) and soldiers (8), supply wagons, an ambulance coach, a kitchen coach, a workshop wagon, a coal wagon, a water tanker and flatcars (5) - up to 30 carriages.
It was equipped with two wz.34 half-track trucks, one light truck (Polski FIAT 618?), four motorcycles with sidecars CWS M-111 and a reserve tankette - on three flatcars. Wz.34 half-tracks were from the repair patrol, and they could be equipped with a rail-riding device.
Modificata da intruder, 23 dicembre 2008 - 16:11.