– The 9th Infantry Division Snowmen –
In October 2014 I was given a set of pictures by the daughter of Master Sergeant Michael Puzak. Sergeant Puzak served with the 39th Infantry Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division during World War 2. Sgt. Puzak was good friends with Sergeant Newman, who was the official 39th Infantry Regimental photographer. Sgt. Newman took many great pictures and filmed some interesting footage of the 9th Infantry Division men throughout the war.
In the set of pictures there were two pictures that really stood out. They depicted a couple of soldiers playing around in the snow and riding a sledge.
One of the pictures says “Belgium – November 1944” and have the names of Sgt Puzak (me), Dip and Newman on them.
Somehow the scenes depicted in these pictures seemed familiar. I had seen these before. When I noticed the 2nd picture where Sgt. Newman on the right is holding the film camera, I decided to go through my archival video footage of the 9th Infantry Division. After checking the excellent Combat Reels compiled by Tyler Alberts, I found some video footage that was filmed by Sgt. Newman. One of the videos was filmed in the Butchenbach – Krinkelt area in Belgium. I played it, and sure enough, it was the footage of Sgt. Puzak and his buddy Dip playing on the sledge in the snow! Here’s the video footage:
As the 99th Infantry Division took over from the 9th Infantry Division early November 1944, it is possible that the men manning the gun in the film footage might possibly be of the 99th Infantry Division. I managed to find another picture of the gun crew seen in the video, and the church in the background:
It was an amazing discovery! To have those great pictures of the men enjoying themselves in the snow in the middle of the war, and to find the actual footage that is being shot by the man in one of the pictures! This is one of the things I really enjoy about doing research.
Thank you to Mrs. Samson and her family for sharing these great pictures with me.
You can order the 9th Infantry Division Combat Reels through the Combat Reels website.