Joseph was born in Carlisle and the 1901 Census shows him still living there with his parents, Edmund (then aged 37, a felt hatter) and Isabella (35). The Census lists a number of children who were all, presumably, his siblings:- Alfred (11), Clara (7), Edmund (4), George (8), John (16), Mary (16), Robert (1) and William (10).
At some point, Edmund must have decided to move to Stockport to continue his work as a hatter. At some point, he returned to Carlisle and his death in 1911 is registered there. In 1916, Mrs Mounsey was living at 17 Windsor Street, Heavily. The local newspaper, reporting Joseph's death, mentions that he was the youngest of 4 brothers, which suggests that 2 may have died between 1901 and 1916. It would seem that Edmund, junior, may have also returned to Carlisle as he is known to have enlisted into the army there.
Joseph worked at the Squirrel Confectionary Works in Stockport and enlisted into the army in the town. He probably went on active service in the summer of 1916 as part of a draft of replacements for casualties suffered during the opening days of the Battle of the Somme.
The Territorial Battalion had been formed as an ordinary fighting unit but was later converted to a Pioneer Battalion. Its primary role became construction, rather than fighting, although the men would still take part in attacks. The change had not been popular.
In early September, the Battalion had been in reserve but was brought forward, south of the village of Montauban, on 30 September. They were digging new trenches and strongpoints in preparation for another attack. Throughout this period, German artillery shelled the British positions causing casualties on a daily basis. Each day, the Battalion had to march 5 miles up to the front line, arriving when it was dark. They would then work through the night returning to their camp in the early morning.
An officer subsequently wrote to Mrs Mounsey "We were going up to the trenches on October 3 when a shell landed in the middle of the platoon wounding your son very badly. He was taken at once to the dressing station. It is a great loss to the platoon as he was one of my best men; in fact you might like to know that I had sent his name in for a higher rank as I was confident his capabilities as an NCO would be very valuable. He was a smart, keen, reliable soldier, dearly loved by all the men.""
After being given first aid at the dressing station, Joseph will have been taken a few miles behind the lines to one of the two Casualty Clearing Stations that were based at Meaulte but nothing could be done to save his life.