Armoured trains in Estonian War of Independence

​Armoured trains were widely used in WW I and in the subsequent Russian civil war. They moved the troops around quickly and safely from the enemy’s light weapons. The trains were used in the Estonian War of Independence from the very start.

The first Estonian armoured train set off for the front in the War of Independence as early as late November 1918, the next two in December. In 1919 another ten Estonian trains reached the front. During the War, altogether 6 broad-gauge and 7 narrow-gauge armoured trains were built in Estonia. Of the latter, one was destroyed in battle.

The efficiency of especially the first three broad-gauge armoured trains was remarkable throughout the war. At the critical initial stages of the war they formed the backbone of the front. Their crew was at first made up only of volunteers, whose enthusiasm was strong, but they also suffered heavy losses. Later conscripted men also worked on the trains.

The carriages of Estonian armoured trains were based on goods carriages, and until spring 1919 their ‘armour’ was only wood and sand. Afterwards the carriages were covered with steel and were provided with cannons and machine guns. The first armoured trains and the Kuperjanov battalion can certainly be considered the best Estonian army units in the War of Independence.

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