54-year-old John Punton had enlisted with the Durham Light Infantry in 1903 and during the first world war had been taken prisoner by the Germans. He was one of the Old Contemptibles, the first six divisions of the British Expeditionary Force sent to the Western Front in 1914 . At the start of the second world war he was living with his wife in West Hartlepool and working at the docks. After the outbreak of war he joined the Air Raid Wardens' Service as a full-time Warden.
Whilst on duty in Musgrave Street in West Hartlepool on the night of 19 June 1940, Punton was severely injured in the blast of a bomb whilst directing civilians to a shelter. He died the next day in the local Cameron Hospital and became the first air raid warden to be killed by enemy action. He was buried on 22 June 1940.
By the war's end, it was calculated that almost 7,000 members of the Civil Defence Services had been killed on duty (6,220 men/boys and 618 women).
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