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The advance of German Army XXXXVIII Corps from crossing the Bug River to the fall of Uman 1941-2

The sudden push into enemy territory, the rapid evacuation of an area and the immediate exploitation of one's own success and the taking advantage of the enemy's weakness are here outlined. US Armed Forces sequestered all German Army after action reports until Casemate published these documents because the US expected to fight the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front in the 1960s.

The attack by German Army XXXXVIII on Berchchev and Zhitomir, Russia, July 1941

The infantry advanced at 03.15 hrs with the support of artillery, smoke shell mortars and anti-aircraft guns. The enemy was taken by surprise and did not resist. A tank battle at Radekhov in June was soon enveloped with many tanks destroyed and gave the advancing German troops renewed confidence. The entire front was able to advance, 11th Panzer Division penetrated the Stalin Line, Miropol was the key to this defensive line. A proposal to advance two Panzer divisions through the Stalin Line was dismissed because one of the divisions would cross the advance line of 16th Motorised infantry Division. Lubar was taken, then Chudnow. The Panzer group was deep into Russian territory on reaching the gates of Berdichev. Russian forces probed Berdichev ensuring the constant threat of attack forced 11th Panzer Division to remain in situ. The 9th Panzer Division advance through Zhitomir threatened the envelopment of Russian forces in the immediate environs. The successful break out from Berdichev and the pivot to the southeast expected to contain strong Russian forces in a large encirclement. The day was a tremendous success considering the protracted length of time the Panzer Corps was detained in Berdichev.

The thrust to the south-east in the direction of Uman ensured Russian forces were denied the ability to escape. Russian forces squeezed by the encirclement were running short of supplies and so deserted to German forces in large numbers. The constant heavy rain turned the roads to mud hampering movement. Significant Russian forces were contained in the Uman pocket. General Kempf congratulated his Panzer Corps for capturing 103,000 enemy troops among them the commanders of the Russian 6th and 12th Armies.

On August 6th, Panzer Group 1 informed the Panzer Corps that it would be required along with 16th Motorised Infantry Division and SS Motorised Division Liebstandarte Adolf Hitler under its command to advance towards Nikolayev in order to prevent the enemy from crossing the Southern Bug. The advance on Nkolayev was a truly international affair, the Hungarian Mobile Corps, the Romanian Cavalry Brigade investing the area around Nokolayev. This city of 170,000 was a poor reward with small dirty houses, cheap plaster statues in neglected green spaces. Nokolayev and Kherson along with a number of small Russian ports on the Black Sea had fallen into German hands. Within eight weeks, the entire west bank of the river from the Black Sea to Cherkassy had been occupied by German troops.

III Army Corps re-designated as III Panzer Corps and set out to capture Kiev which was encircled with a large number of Red Army formations captured. The rapid drive of the Panzer Corps demonstrated the skillful leadership of armoured troops. Enemy weaknesses were exploited with relatively few losses. 868 enemy tanks and 422 enemy guns wee captured with 806 killed and 2,426 wounded. The Panzer Corps had to wait outside Kiev for the infantry divisions ultimately to encircle and capture a number of Red Army units.

Winter has set in as Tula was surrounded in October. Siberian divisions arrived and threatened the south-eastern and eastern flanks of depleted German formations. Germany overestimated the capabilities of German forces and did not deal with the climate and terrain. the campaign in the east had reached its climax.

The First Panzer Army thrust into the Caucasus covered 1,000km, failed to take Grozny and the oilfields and on being threatened with being outflanked by Russian forces investing Stalingrad the First Panzer Army had to conduct a gradual withdrawal from January 1943 by fighting back along the very route it had used to rush forward. A lack of initiative of the enemy combined with the discipline of the German troops enabled German forces and Army Group A to carry out a successful withdrawal.

The thrust eastwards by the German armoured units were vulnerable to attack from the north and south with units detached to deal with theses threats. this weakened the Panzerkiel. There were insufficient troops to occupy the lands seized by Germany, consequently partisans threatened rear echelon troops and supply lines with impunity.

Source: Panzer Tactics, Tank operations in the East, Oskar Munzel, Die Wehrmacht in Kampf, Casemate 2021


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