The recruiting sergeant might have tossed a coin to see which unit Joseph should be allocated to. Engineers? Or Medical Corps?
In civilian life he had worked as a bricklayer, skills which were in demand by the Field Companies of the Royal Engineers. However, for 17 years he had been an active member of the St John Ambulance and, before he had been called up (probably in early 1918), he had been an orderly at Pendlebury Red Cross Hospital.
He'd been born in Hyde, the second child of Henry and Mary but the family had moved to Stockport in the late 1880s living at 15 Lord Street and, later, at 2 Carlton Crescent. Joseph is believed to have got married, in 1912, to Mary Welsh but it is not known where they lived and his parents are listed by the War Graves Commission as his next of kin. Perhaps she had also died before the Commission collated its casualty information in the early 1920s
On 1 October 1918, Joseph and his comrades were near the French village of Epinoy, ten kilometres north of the town of Cambrai. During the night, they were constructing strongpoints in the trench system when the Germans shelled their position. The Company War Diary records "6 casualties - I man being killed and 5 others wounded." In spite of this being two days before the date of Joseph's death as recorded by the War Graves Commission, research strongly indicates that the man killed must have been him. The Company suffered no other deaths between 1 and 3 October and he is the only Royal Engineer buried in the Cemetery near to where they were working.
It was reported that Joseph wasn't killed outright but did die within a very short time - within 30 minutes of being taken to the dressing station just behind the front line.