When the war began, Sydney Carlin abandoned farming to serve with the Royal Engineers. Badly wounded in May 1915, he lost a leg after fighting in the trenches at Ypres on the Western Front. Equipped with a wooden leg, he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in 1917 and 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. During World War II, he returned to England and despite his age, rejoined the Royal Air Force and served as a gunner on night fighters and bombers. At the age of 52, while serving with 151 Squadron, Carlin died following an air raid on the squadron's airfield at Wittering.
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.