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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. A E Makins


Arthur Edward Makins was born in Thetford on 29th January 1915 and educated at the Grammar School there. He joined the RAF in January 1932 as an Aircraft Apprentice and trained at the Electrical and Wireless School at Cranwell.

After passing out as a Wireless/ Electrical Mechanic, Makins served in Egypt in 1935/36 and Palestine in 1936/37. Back in the UK in late 1937, he was flying as a Wireless Operator with 206 Squadron at Bircham Newton.


Above: this uncaptioned photo presumably shows him at left.


Makins volunteered for pilot training, was selected and on 6th October 1938 began his initial training course at 3 E&RFTS Hamble.

On 2nd January 1939 he moved on to 2 FTS Brize Norton and on completion of the course joined 54 Squadron at Hornchurch on 6th August. At that time training flights were not permitted in the London area and Makins was offered a choice of staying with 54 and training later or go to the Fighter Pool at St. Athan.

He chose the latter and went to St. Athan on 20th September 1939. He was not there long enough to carry out fighter attack training because he was posted to 263 Squadron at Filton on 2nd October as a replacement for a Sergeant-Pilot injured in a car accident.

After flying Gladiators with 263 Squadron Makins went to 41 Squadron at Catterick on 25th November. In early January 1940 41 Squadron was asked to send a pilot with Gladiator experience for two weeks to Sumburgh in the Shetlands, to join the Fighter Flight there. It had been formed to counter raids on Scapa Flow.

Makins went there on 6th January 1940 and on the 12th the Flight was transferred from Fighter Command to Coastal Command. Makins remained with the Flight and was still serving with it on 21st July 1940 when it began to move to Roborough, again back in Fighter Command. Once there it was redesignated 247 Squadron on 1st August.

It is possible that he met his future wife while stationed in the Shetlands as the records there show that a Arthur Makins married Edith Cavell Ridland on 11th September 1940 at Lerwick.

On 2nd June 1941 he was posted to 60 OTU East Fortune as an instructor on night fighters. The unit later became 132 (Coastal) OTU, equipped with Beaufighters. Makins was commissioned in December 1941.

On 31st August 1943 Makins went to 2 (Coastal) OTU at Catfoss and joined 236 Squadron at North Coates on 11th October, again on Beaufighters.

He was posted to 2 APC Docking on 12th January 1944, moved to a course at 2 FIS Montrose on 6th December 1944, after which he went to 3(P) AFU at Morton Valence on 11th April 1945 as an instructor.

Makins was released from the RAF on 3rd December 1945 as a Flight Lieutenant.

He died on 3rd September 2000.


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