Makin, Paul “Scruffy” St John

Paul, or Scruffy as he was known to his mates, was born in Adelaide on the 22nd October 1920. Scruffy was in England when War was declared, studying at Cambridge University. He left university and was accepted into the RAF, graduating as a Sergeant Pilot, and was posted to a Hurricane squadron.

When 452 RAAF Squadron was formed in mid 1941, he was one of the pilots transferred to it. He completed a full tour, and when the Squadron was moved to the Isle of Man in March 1942, Scruffy received a Commission and was made a Flight Commander. Of interest, the Brisbane Courier Mail on the 6th March 1943 credited Scruffy with 70 sorties over France. We do not know if they were with 452 squadron or while he was with the RAF.

The photo with courtesy of AWM is of the pilots of 452 Squadron at RAF Station Kirton-in-Lindsey. From left to right: 287473 Sergeant Paul St John Makin; 400141 Flying Officer Keith Kipling Cox (accidentally killed in the UK, 23 January 1944); possibly Archie Stuart; Flight Lieutenant Brendan Eamonn Fergus “Paddy” Finucane RAF, DSO, DFC & Two Bars (killed during operations over Etaples, France, on 15 July 1942, aged 21 years); 407078 Ian Arthur Lace Milne; 402120 Sergeant James Neate Hanigan (killed on active service at Carlisle, England, on 7 September 1941, aged 24 years); 402129 Frederick Revis McCann; 402144 Squadron Leader Raymond Edward Thorold-Smith (killed during operations over the Timor Sea on 15 March 1943, aged 24 years); 257414 Squadron Leader Robert Wilton Bungey DFC (killed in a ground accident in South Australia on 10 June 1943, aged 28 years); 400166 Flying Officer William Douglas Willis (killed during operations near Rouen, France, on 18 September 1941, aged 24 years); possibly 402007 Flight Lieutenant Alex Roberts; 400148 Flying Officer Donald Edwin Lewis (accidentally killed over the English Channel on 21 January 1942, aged 19 years); possibly Flight Lieutenant Dougas; 404086 Sergeant Andrew Gordon Costello (killed during operations over the UK on 5 July 1941, aged 23 years); 400213 Squadron Leader Keith William “Bluey” Truscott DFC & bar (killed in an accident near Exmouth Gulf, WA, on 28 March 1943); 402115 Sergeant Richard George Gazzard (killed during operations over Belgium on 19 August 1941, aged 21 years). Absent: 404087 Pilot Officer Raife James Cowan, 408022 Justin O’Byrne (later POW); 402232 Pilot Officer William Davies Eccleton (killed in action in France on 19 August 1941, aged 25 years); and Pilot Officer R.T. Holt. 452 Kiirton.AWM

When 452 Squadron was recalled to Australia, he returned with it then saw service at Darwin with the Squadron in 1943. Scruffy was then posted as an Instructor to Mildura and later he was posted to Test and Ferry in 1944 and 1945.

After discharge, he went back to University for a short time, but then joined Ansett in 1950, where he attained the rank of Captain. He retired in 1980 with 20,000 hours, finishing on jet aircraft. He settled in Surfers Paradise and not long after his wife Cobbie passed away, he moved into a nursing home at Robina on the Gold Coast.

Paul always wore his uniform with buttons undone and hat on the back of his head, even when flying with Ansett, and was known as “Scruffy” to all. When he could no longer drive, he used to be taken to the reunions.  

At his funeral on the 23rd July (year unknown) the last member of 452 Squadron who lived on the Coast gave a short address. Paul was liked by all and will be remembered by all who knew him for his cheerfulness and funny remarks.

The Spitfire Association