World War II Today: F.W. von Mellenthin: Panzer Battles 1939-45:
At 0600 hours on 6 December the spearheads of all three panzer divisions crossed the Zhitomir—Korosten road. Contrary to what we expected, there was a strongly manned position running along the road, although it was still in course of construction. The Russians were taken completely by surprise as they had seen absolutely nothing of our outflanking maneuver.
On this line they offered brave but unco-ordinated resistance which was speedily broken down, particularly on the front of the 7th Panzer Division. From then onwards the thrust went on smoothly and penetrated far into hostile territory. At no time was there any crisis.
In those days we were really good at intercepting Russian wireless traffic; enemy messages were promptly deciphered and passed to Corps in time to act on them. We were kept well informed of Russian reactions to our movements, and the measures they proposed to take, and we modified our own plans accordingly.
At first the Russians underestimated the importance of the German thrust. Later a few antitank guns were thrown into the fray. Then slowly the Russian Command got worried. Wireless calls became frantic. “Report at once where the enemy comes from. Your message is unbelievable.” Reply: “Ask the Devil’s grand-mother; how should I know where the enemy comes from?” (Whenever the Devil and his near relations are mentioned in Russian signals one can assume that a crack-up is at hand.)
Towards noon the Russian Sixtieth Army went off the air, and soon afterwards our tanks overran the army headquarters.By evening the Russian front had been rolled up for a length of twenty miles. The attack was brilliantly supported by the aircraft of General Seidemann, who had established his H.Q. in close vicinity to that of the 48th Panzer Corps.
The Air Liaison Officer from the 8th Fliegerkorps travelled in an armored car with our leading tanks and kept in direct wireless contact with the air squadrons. The advance continued without a halt.
During the night 7/8 December “Leibstandarte” thrust deeply through the Russian lines. Unfortunately the success could not be exploited, as the tanks ran out of gasoline and “Leibstandarte” was kept busy the whole day rescuing immobile tanks. First Panzer Division broke down all resistance and pushed through as far as the Teterev river. Fighting stubbornly the 7th Panzer Division smashed the Malin bridgehead on the banks of the Irscha and on 9 December the area between the two rivers was mopped up. Seventh Panzer eliminated the bridgehead south of Malin while the divisions of the 13th Corps took up positions in rear of our armor.
The results so far achieved were satisfactory. The Russian Sixtieth Army had been completely disrupted, and it was clear from their huge ammunition dumps and the intricate roadnet they had developed that we had forestalled an offensive of gigantic dimensions.