Sydney's father, James, had first married in 1874. His wife had died and, in the spring of 1895, he remarried - to Harriett Jebb. They were living in the Hulme area of Manchester and Sydney and his younger sister, Hilda, were born there. They moved to Reddish in about 1900 living first at 7 Emily Street and, later, at 7 Prenton View. James died in 1912, aged 77.
Sydney was educated at the Houldsworth School and he continued his education by attending St Elizabeth's Sunday School. When War was declared, he was working for Craven Brothers (Manchester) Ltd, Greg Street, Reddish. The company were machine tool makers and crane manufacturers.
On 7 September 1914, less than a month after the War started, Sydney travelled into Manchester and enlisted into the Lancashire Fusiliers and was given the service number 8740. This may have been the 11th Battalion which, along with his later Machine Gun Company, formed part of the Army's 74th Brigade. The Company was established in March 1916 and it is probable that Sydney was transferred at that time. Sydney's name, however, is inscribed on the Stockport War Memorial amongst the men who served with Lancashire Regiments, rather than with the Corps. It is possible that the news of his transfer had not reached his family or had not been appreciated by them when they came to submit his name for inclusion on the Memorial.
On the day he was killed, the Company left the small French town of Nieppe, near the border with Belgium and replaced another machine gun company in trenches across the border near Ploegsteert. There are no further details of the day recorded in the Company's War Diary, but the "change-overs" had usually been spotted by aircraft and it was a favourite time for both sides to shell the trenches opposite in the hope of catching men in the open. Perhaps this is what happened to Sydney.