Joseph was born in Northwich, the son of Samuel and Alice. When the census was taken in 1901, Samuel and Joseph were living at 2 Sadler Street, in the Hulme district of Manchester. Although Samuel was recorded as being married, Alice was not living at home and her whereabouts are unknown. A 63 year old woman, Alice Fearnley, lived with them as a housekeeper. Joseph was working as clerk in warehouse.
In 1906, he married Florence Cottam at St Thomas' Church, High Lane. The couple lived locally until he enlisted into the army at Manchester. The 8th Battalion of the Welsh Fusiliers was formed in Wrexham immediately after the outbreak of War in August 1914. It saw service at Gallipoli in 1915 before the withdrawal at the end of the year after the failure of the campaign. Joseph's medal entitlement records at the National Archives confirm he did not join the Battalion until after the beginning of 1916 but it is not known when.
British troops had entered the country in 1914 to secure the oilfields but had then advanced in somewhat reckless and costly campaign against the Turkish Army. They were defeated in the autumn of 1915 and forced to retreat to the town of Kut where they were besieged for several months, finally being forced into surrender. After this, the Army was reinforced with new units and new tactics would be employed in the desert conditions. By mid January, all would be ready for an attack.
November had been spent at Amara, undertaking various training exercises. Amara is now a town of some 200, 000 people in south eastern Iraq. During the war, it was a major hospital and rest area for the troops fighting in Mesopotamia
On the 28th , they left camp and moved towards the front line near Sinn Abtar and Bassouia. On 20 December, there was an attempt to cross the River Tigris, but this seems to have been half-hearted as minimal Turkish sniper fire seems to have deterred the whole Division and orders for a withdrawal were given. Christmas Day was spent in the front line. It was reported that there was intermittent enemy artillery which did no real damage. During the night, a patrol was sent forward some 2000 yards but there was no sign of the enemy positions. On 30 December, 40th Brigade was withdrawn from the front line and returned to reserve camp at Bassouia.
The War Diary records that the first week of 1917 was spent in "straightening out" the Battalion after it had been constantly on the move for over a month. Fatigue parties worked daily cutting brushwood to make a road. On 12 January, the period of "rest" was over and the Fusiliers were ordered back into the front line to prepare for an attack on the Turkish positions. On arrival, they found that there was no real trench network and digging started immediately. At this point, the Turks were only 350 yards away, across flat ground with very little cover. They were able to continually snipe at the British troops. But, by 24 January, the work was complete and a proper front line, 1200 yards wide, had been prepared, together with communication trenches to the rear area. A total of 5 miles of trench had been dug and 8 men had been killed
The attack took place next morning, with the Fusiliers assaulting a 500 yard wide section of the enemy trench. The attack was success, although there were a number of casualties during the charge across No Man's Land. As soon as the position had been taken, Captain Farrar (the officer in charge of the attack) reorganised the troops and pushed forward some soldiers, whilst others consolidated the gains. Whilst the consolidation was underway, the other men had captured the Turkish second line of trenches. By dusk, consolidation was complete and preparations were in hand for a further advance the next day. By that time, 26 men had been killed. Amongst the 26 were three local men, William Jones , Walter Cooke and Stephen Isherwood. Joseph had been badly wounded and died later the same day.