Whilst the German Term “Munitions-Train” MAY refer to Railroad trains, during WW II, BUT the term derives from the earlier Wagon-Train type of transport, (also still in use in WW II…the German Army still used Horse-drawn vehicles as late as 1941)
WW I is replete with ID markings such as “Train-Batallion” ( referring to the Artillery and other ammuntion supply columns, virtually all “Horse drawn”…Motor vehicles only became widespread in the later years of WW I.
The Equivalent English/US term would be simply, “Supply Column” or “Transport Corps” (US) or “Service Corps” ( Britain).
The term “Train” ( from the Latin Traherethrough the Italian and French "Trainare"/“Trainer” meaning “to Draw along” dates back to the Middle Ages…hence “Baggage train” ( the effects and camp followers of any medieval army…see “Henry V” for details of usage.). The Prussians, great admirers of the French Enlightenment, adopted the word to distinguish the Supply Waggons from the Fighting Troops.
Of course in English, French etc, the Term Train was eventually affixed to the “Locomotive Wagon Train” ( ie, Railroad/way train)…But German used its own term “Der Zug” ( relating to the Rails, not the waggons)…Funny how each language can use different words for the same thing…
In the German Supply System, Supplies (Arms, Ammunition, etc) were delivered by the Factories to the Regional Depots (“anstalten”) for accumulation, checking,repacking if necessary, and onward dispatch to individual Units or Military groupings. Most Anstalten were served by Railway spurs, as this hastened delivery from Factory to Depot; but distribution was mostly done by Road vehilce; of course, during the Russian Campaign, all means of transport were used ( including Horse drawn) to get ammunition to the troops.
Never ( almost?) were supplies passed directly from Factory to Troops, not even in the last days of WW II in 1945.
The Question of the German Interaction of Railways with Troop and Supply Movements goes back to pre-Franco Prussian War ( 1870) times, when Friedrich Krupp ( the Cannon King…but also Locomotive King) used to check the Military and Civilian Timetables of the various State Railways in the German States, to ensure they were consistent and safe…he did it as a hobby…and the German High Command thanked him for it in the 1870 war, where rail was used to shift large numbers of Troops and Guns to the French Border in an orderly and timely fashion. Similar accuracy also aided the GHC in 1914, both in the west and the east. By the time of the Formation of the unified Reichsbahn
in the early 1920s, ( amalgamating all the former indivdual state railways) the scene was set for a well co-ordinated rail transport system across greater Germany ( incl. Austria and Czechoslovakia) so that by 1939, the railroads could carry the brunt of the load to the behind the lines areas of the war, and allow Motor transport to carry the load to the troops.
This was especially important in Russia, where Railways were the only sure means of transport, the roads being Poor and few. The German Army maintained a substantial “Rail division” handling conversion of Foreign Rollingstock, rebuilding and re-gauging of track in Russia ( Russian track was 5’0", whilst German was 4’8,5";) also Russian rolling stock had Automatic Janney couplers, whilst the German equipment still had the Hook and Adjustable Shackle type couplers.The war even led to improvements in Locomotive efficiency, with Fully welded boilers, Condenser Tenders to save water (for Russia) heated and insulated Cabs (Russia again) and a unified “kriegslok” ( 42, and 50 series) design which could be turned out in thousands of examples, to make up for losses from air-raids etc. They were so good that the Soviets converted captured ones to 5-foot gauge, and they were still in use into the 1980s; I saw several sidelined ones in the Czech Republic in 1993…they had been used on dedicated Warsaw Pact 5 foot lines from Czechoslovakia, Poland, East Germany etc to the Soviet Union…all part of the Warsaw Pact Plan for a rapid transit to Europe if needed. ( of course, once close to Western Europe, they would have to “change trains” to utilize the standard 4’8,5’" tracks of the west.
Railway History aficionado as well as Cartridge collector.