Sydney's birth had been registered in Stockport and it is understood the family may have originated from Cheadle. After the war, his parents were running the Grapes Hotel, Underbank, Stockport. It is possible that he was related to Frank Buxton who was killed on 2 October 1916 and is commemorated on the Cheadle Memorial.
He had attended Stockport Grammar School and later went to work at a cotton warehouse in Manchester. Sydney was an active member of the YMCA, playing football and cricket for the team, as well as being an accomplished boxer. His interests were not restricted to physical pursuits as he was also a fine baritone singer. He would often perform and had a wide repertory of comic and sentimental songs.
He enlisted in October 1914 and went overseas the following August. The Cheshires had spent March 1916 in training but, on 1 April, returned to the trenches, taking over a section of the front line known as the "Moated Grange" near Neuve Chapelle.
The next day, Ben Williams, was shot by a German sniper. Sydney was in charge of the Battalion's own snipers and was probably ordered to try and seek out his opposite number. However, it was the German who would seek out Sydney and kill him. Throughout the War, German snipers had better equipment, training and tactics than their Allied opponents.
Sydney's officer later wrote "He had been in my platoon since we got to the trenches this year and I have always found him a good and trustworthy soldier. As a lance corporal in charge of the snipers he was a great help to the men and set them an excellent example. It was in carrying out his duty that he met his death at 11.30 on Monday morning. He died instantly and would feel no pain."