- Second World War (1939-1945)
- Secret Intelligence Branch, Office of Strategic Services (OSS)
- Awarded on:
- January 9th, 1946
From 1941-1943 Sergeant Puntman was active in the Dutch underground and during the latter part of this period was in charche of the movement in the Arnhem district. In November 1944, having been forced to go underground himself, he volunteered for espionage work with the Office of Strategic Services. Accordingly he was brought to the United Kingdom, trained and scheduled for despatch on such a mission. At the last moment operational reasons compelled the abandonment of this project; Sgt.Puntman, completely disregarding his own personal safety, volunteered to be dropped in civilian clothes by parachute ub tge dark moon period into the dedoubt area of Southern Germany. From his long underground experience in enemy-occupied Holland, Sgt. Puntman realised fully the extremely hazardous nature of the project itself, as well as the grave dangers involved in dropping in complete darkness into such mountainous country.
On the night of 24 April 1945, Sgt. Puntman and the other members of the mission were dropped by parachute approximately 15 miles south-east of Kufstein (Austria). The dropping point proved to be heavily wooded and rocky slope, and Sgt. Puntman was saved from serious injury only by landing in deep snow. He and his companions were met by another Office of Strategic Operations Service mission and by partisans, and conducted to a partisan hut in the mountains. There they learned of a new danger: the local underground chief, who had been advised of their coming and was completely informed of all espionage and underground activitities in the region, had mysteriously disappeared a day or two before, so that Sgt. Puntman and his team-mates faced the prospect of immediate betrayal and capture. Despite this, when it became evident that the local underground seemed either unwilling or ubable, in view of the circumstances, to escort them to their second objective, Zell am See (Austria), Sgt. Puntman displayed a high degree of initiative and courage in setting out on foot through the woods with one of his team-mates for his objective. En route, at Lotzbhel (Austria), they made contact with a resistance leader who furnished them with shelter. Learning that Kitzhubel was a more important objective than Zell am See, and finding this shelter unsatisfactory as a base of operations, they moved to the home of another resistance leader in the very center of Kitzhubel. While his companion set up his W/T equipment in a house on the outskirts of the town, Sgt. Puntman established contact with local sources of information, whit whom he met daily at considerable personal risk, in view of the strict control exercised by the SS on movements in the region. He succeeded in this way in obtaining tactical information on troop movements and dispositions of men and meterial, a portion of which his companion transmitted to London by wireless telegraph, and the remainder sent by courier through enemy lines to the advancing American troops This information was of material assistance in the rapid American occupation of the region. In addition Sgt. Puntman directed the activities of the local underground movement, in the course of which he exhibited a hig degree of leadership and sound judgment, in particular by restraining the local underground from blowing up a number of bridges which were later captured intact by the American Forces. On 8 May American troops entered Kitzhubel. Sgt. Puntman and his team-mate disclosed themselves to G-2 and CIC and for the next few days were of material assistance in locating remnants of Nazi resistance, escapees and suitable persons for Militery Government. On 19 May Sgt. Puntman, in accordance with orders, returned to London, having, through the exercise of great personal couraf, outstanding ability and uniformly good judgment, succesfully accomplished an extremely difficult and hazardous mission.