Sebastian Skinner was born in Ashreigney in 1898 and was one of six children in the family. His father was also Sebastian Skinner, an agricultural labourer also born in Ashreigney, who had married Helena Neale in 1883. Some years before 1911, the family moved to Winkleigh, and Sebastian went to school there.
It appears that Sebastian volunteered for the Army on 30 October 1916 when he was just 18 years old. He was placed in the Army Reserve on Home Service and therefore in the Territorials. This continued until 27 August 1917 when he was removed from the Army Reserve but still to be on Home Service. The next day Sebastian enlisted as an airman class 2. At his enlistment his occupation is reported as apprentice tailor. This may give a clue to delay between him volunteering and his enlistment. The expected increase in numbers of aircraft as the war developed would require many more men with very particular skills. Tailoring would have been one of those skills to maintain and repair the fabric covered wings of the aircraft. It could have been arranged for Sebastian to become the fabric operative that he did. He was transferred to the Royal Air Force at its creation on 1 April 1918. His RAF service record records him good character and his religion as C. of E.
Sebastian was in the RAF for just a week when he was discharged with phthises, a tuberculosis of the lungs with progressive wasting of the body or pulmonary tuberculosis. He went to the Military Hospital at Tidworth, was awarded a pension 26 weeks and a Silver War Badge. These badges were awarded to those who were discharged because they became unfit to continue.
11th July 2014