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Name: Sydney "Timbertoes" Carlin Balloon-Buster
Military Cross (MC)
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)
Sydney Carlin
Country: England
Rank: Captain
Service: Royal Flying Corps
Royal Air Force
Units: 74
Victories: 10
Born: 24 March 1889
Place of Birth: Hull, Yorkshire, England
Died: 09 May 1941 Killed in Action
Place of Death: Wittering, Peterborough, England
Memorial: Hull Crematorium,Yorkshire, England
The son of William and Caroline Carlin, who ran a tallow chandlery, Sydney Carlin attended boarding school in Westmoreland. He served for a year with the Royal Hussars as a private soldier (1908-09). When the war began, he abandoned farming and joined the 18th Royal Hussars in 1914. Sent to France on 15 August 1914, he was wounded in action (head wound) at Second Ypres in 1915, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. He was promoted to Lance Corporal, transferred to the 1st East Riding Field Company, Royal Engineers and was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in September 1915. Carlin received the Military Cross after being wounded by a shell at Delville Wood in 1916, losing his left leg below the knee. Equipped with a wooden leg, his request for transfer to the Royal Flying Corps was refused so he paid for private flying lessons and was accepted in 1917. His mates took to calling him "Timbertoes." After serving as an instructor, Carlin was posted to 74 Squadron on 26 May 1918. Flying the S.E.5a, he survived a mid-air collision with his commanding officer, Keith Caldwell, and scored ten victories, including 5 balloons. On 21 September 1918, six days after scoring his final victory, Carlin was captured by the Germans when he was shot down by Siegfried Westphal of Jasta 29. Due to poor health, Carlin relinquished his commission in 1919 and sailed for Kenya aboard the SS Madura on 2 October 1924. There he was a farmer, big game hunter, Justice of the Peace, and member of the Kenyan Defence Force. Returning to the United Kingdom when World War II began, he was initially classified as "unfit for duty" but was eventually commissioned as a Flying Officer in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and served as an aerial gunner on Defiants with 151 Squadron. At the age of 52, Carlin died from wounds received in an early evening air raid by a single JU88 Stuka dive bomber on the squadron's airfield at Wittering. Carlin rushed by bicycle to his aeroplane to combat the raid rather than seek cover. He was mortally wounded as he attempted to climb into his plane's turret and died the following day.
British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
Lt. Sydney Carlin, M.C., D.C.M. (R.E.).
   A gallant and determined pilot, who sets a fine example to his squadron. Though handicapped by the loss of a leg, he is bold and skilful in attack, and has destroyed four balloons and shot down two enemy machines.
Date Time Unit Aircraft Opponent Location
1 13 Jun 1918 1015 74 S.E.5a (C6459) DFW C (DES) SE of Zillebeke Lake
2 18 Jun 1918 0810 74 S.E.5a (C6459) Pfalz D.III (OOC) SE of Zillebeke Lake
3 19 Jul 1918 0915 74 S.E.5a (D6922) Balloon (DES) Nieppe Village
4 20 Jul 1918 0830 74 S.E.5a (D6922) Balloon (DES) 2 mi SW of Armentières
5 28 Jul 1918 0540 74 S.E.5a (D6922) Balloon (DES) S of Armentières
6 30 Jul 1918 1805 74 S.E.5a (D6922) Fokker D.VII (DES) E of Dickebusch Lake
7 02 Aug 1918 0600 74 S.E.5a (D6922) Balloon (DES) Erquinghem
8 10 Aug 1918 1905 74 S.E.5a Fokker D.VII (DES) E of Messines
9 04 Sep 1918 0745 74 S.E.5a (D6091) Balloon (DES) NE of Armentières
10 15 Sep 1918 1850 74 S.E.5a Fokker D.VII (DESF) NE of Lille
Chester, Don. Undaunted: the courage of Sydney Carlin. Private publication, 2014
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