The history of Polish armoured trains started shortly after Poland gained independence in 1918. They were one of the most important weapons in the war against Bolsheviks in 1919 and 1920, and the other conflicts that shaped the borders of Poland. Dozens of improvised armoured trains fought between 1918 and 1921. After operations ceased in 1921, only the dozen most advanced were left in service.
Each battalion mobilised five armoured trains, 1st Battalion included trains numbered from 11 to 15 and the 2nd Battalion had trains numbered from 51 to 55. The trains were usually attached to other units patrolling, providing artillery support, and often covering withdrawals.
Armoured train Nr. 53 Śmiały (‘Bold’) was typical. It was grouped with train Nr. 52 Piłsudczyk (‘Piłsudskiite’—supporter of Józef Piłsudski, Chief of State from 1918 to 1922). Both had fought for Poland in the wars of independence from 1918 to 1920, and modernised, fought again in 1939.
On the day of the German invasion Nr. 53 assisted the Wołyńska Brygada Kawalerii (Volynian Cavalry Brigade) in stopping the advance of the German 4th Panzer Division at
Mokra. On the following day the trains withdrew towards Warsaw engaging tanks of the 1st Panzer Division.
Two weeks later both trains fought in the defence of the fortress city of Brześć, holding off the 10th Panzer Division for three days. The train escaped the fall of the fortress, only to be finally captured by the Red Army in Lvov.