Sydney’s birth to Charles and Sarah Colley was registered at Inverell in 1897. He was the third of five children of this family. When he enlisted at Inverell in November 1915, he was working as a Blacksmith. The Inverell Times newspaper 6 July 1917 reported that he ‘… joined the ‘Wallabies’, taking part in that contingent’s well known route march from Narrabri.’
Sydney became a member of the 34th Battalion, A Company which trained at Maitland prior to leaving Australia on HMAT A20 Hororata on 2 May 1916. Upon arrival in England further training took place at Salisbury Plain. His Battalion was sent to France in November 1916.
Private Colley was killed in action on 7 June 1917 during the Battle of Messines and has no known grave. His name is inscribed on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres, Belgium. His few remaining personal effects were returned to his mother. At Inverell his name was recorded on the Methodist Church Honor Roll, the Inverell Honor Roll and Cenotaph. His name is also on the Long Plain Memorial Hall Honor Roll where a tree was planted in his memory in August 1923. In 1919 he was one of the 215 men for whom a memorial tree was planted in Kurrajong Parade, Inverell.
Private Colley married the day before his departure from Australia. His wife and daughter were granted a pension after his death.
An older brother, Louis, served with the 1st Battalion 13th Reinforcement after enlisting in August 1915. He left Australia on HMAT A60 Aeneas in December 1915 and returned home in April 1919. His name is recorded on the Inverell Honor Roll as Lewis R Cooley.
Sydney and Louis were cousins of Clarence Colley who also served during the War.