Trotsky made 36 tours of the front from 1918 to 1921 in what he referred to simply as "the train". Formed in Moscow on 7 August 1918 (two armoured engines, 12 wagons), the train immediately reinforced the Volga Front with a shock force of Latvian Riflemen.
Eventually, there were several armoured machine-gun wagons, a petrol tanker, flatbeds for wheeled vehicles, a secretariat wagon, several supply wagons, a printing press, a telegraph station, an aerial antenna which could receive transmissions from thirteen foreign locations, a bath wagon, an electrical power station, a kitchen, a library, a musical band and two aircraft. Trotsky divided the train into two echelons during the second half of the civil war. According to eyewitness Victor Serge, the train had one gun and a separate train followed with 300 cavalry.
Personnel included an elite company of bodyguards, over 100 strong, two secretaries, cooks, a photographer, a film camera man, printing staff for the train's newspaper En Route, mechanics, rail engineers and communications technicians. Socially, the group contained workers, sailors, intellectuals, and several dozen political agitators and communists, all armed with the best weapons. At first, the echelon had 250 personnel, but this could have doubled over time.
On board were five automobiles appropriated from the Tsar's garage, one of them Trotsky's command car, a Rolls-Royce outfitted with two machine guns. Several light trucks could detrain and carry emergency supplies to the front. Thirty sharpshooters accompanied the boss during his tight schedule of visitations at local headquarters, when haranguing the masses, or wherever an elite platoon could make a difference. According to Trotsky: "The train linked the front with the base, solved urgent problems on the spot, educated, appealed, supplied, rewarded, and punished." Punishments included summary executions by firing squad.
The train often travelled at 70km/hr for security. The Whites attacked several times with artillery and aircraft, but inflicted only 15 casualties (15 more listed as "missing"). The train received the "Order of the Red Banner" for actions near Petrograd in 1919.
Impressive large badge embroidered in yellow felt, according the Trotsky’s memoirs
‘…on the left arm, just below the shoulder, each ( man ) wore a large metal badge…with the following inscriptions
-top: Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic ( RSFSR )
-center: Chairman of Revolutionary Military Council
-bottom: L. Trotsky