In the late summer of 1889, John Holland (a journeyman hatter) married Sarah A Bowett at All Saints Church, Cheadle Hulme. Their first child, Elizabeth, was born about two years later, followed by Joseph and Florence. When the 1901 Census was taken, the family had moved away from the area and was living at 18 Abbey Street, Duston St James, Northamptonshire. Some time between then and the Great War, they returned to Stockport living first at 6 Green Street and then at 36 Buckingham Street.
Joseph attended St Thomas Day School and furthered his education as a member of the Stockport Sunday School. When War broke out, Joseph was not an early volunteer but, perhaps towards the end of 1915, he enlisted into one of the Territorial battalions of the Cheshire Regiment. He was given the service number 4307. This doesn't appear on his medal entitlement records at the National Archives, confirming that he never served abroad with the Regiment and was, no doubt, transferred to the Fusilers when he had completed his training. He will have seen action during the Battle of the Somme in the summer and autumn of 1916.
There is no mention of the day Joseph was killed in the Battalion's War Diary. On 6 July, they had moved to the rear as one of 32nd Division's reserve battalions and were at Camp Ribaillet near Coxyde on the Channel coast. They spent all of the month in the relative safety, of this area but still suffered 14 fatalities. Most will have been as a result of shellfire from the long-range German artillery guns.