Sydney 'Timbertoes' Carlin - English Eccentric and WW1 Ace
Carlin’s birth certificate indicates that he was originally named Sidney and indeed is still known by this spelling in the 1891 census, with an address at 23 Hutt Street, Sculcoates.
The 1901 census shows him at Bonnygate House, Soulby still known as Sidney.
Short Service records show that he enlisted with the 18th Hussars as Sidney for the first time in 1908 (2663), but he bought himself out and resigned in December 1909 for the sum of £18.
The 1911 census shows him working as a farm Labourer at Frodingham Grange, North Frodingham Yorkshire. (transcribed incorrectly as CASLIN but sight of a facsimile of the return confirms this is Carlin.
His short service record then shows that he reenlisted on 8/8/15 (28677). This is just 4 days after the start of the war and maybe indicates that he was on the reserve? The army refunded half (£9) of the money he had bought himself out with in 1909.
Secondary sources then suggest that he lost his leg at Ypres in 1915. After his recovery he joined 74 Squadron RFC (his record now shows him as Sydney) flying SE 5a against balloons and aircraft, becoming officially an Ace with 5 balloon and 5 aircraft kills. Shot down over Hantay by Siegfried Westphal (Jasta 29), POW repatriated 13/12/18. Admitted RAF Central Hospital 25/12/18/. Resigned commission 7/6/19.
Inter war years I have sight of the passenger list for the SS Madura departing London 1 October 1924 for Mombasa. Sydney is listed as an 'Agriculturist' (No wife listed, do we know if he ever married?) One report suggests he was working for a German Baron in Kenya.
In WW2 as a Pilot Officer (81942) he flew as a gunner in Defiants with 264 Squadron and later 151 Squadron. If this is correct then this would suggest he was at Wittering when he died. His death was registered at Peterborough which is local to the airfield, on 9 May 1941. The official History of Wittering reports enemy raids on 7th and 8th of May but not the 9th, which may put a question mark on reports that he died scrambling to get in the turret of his aircraft, maybe he died from injuries 24 hours later, or a mistake on the certificate?
Our reader Tom Lawrence writes:
Sydney Carlin did indeed work for a German: one Count Tiele von Winkler on Mnara Estate near a place called Koru not too far from Lake Victoria. He also played polo in the region, despite his wooden leg, and became good friends with a young and rather rogue-ish Percy Pickard who had come to Kenya, and studied Agriculture at Egerton College. Their relationship continued into WWII, with Sydney Carlin flying with Percy Pickard when he was given the chance.