Joseph was born in the Heaton Norris area between April and June 1895. His parents are thought to be Samuel and Edith (nee Jones) who married in Whitchurch in the early part of 1885. Neville Brewin, Joseph's older brother, was born in Whitchurch in 1887, but the family must have moved to the Stockport area by 1892, when Mary Brewin was born.
Joseph volunteered for the army in early September 1914, within a month of war being declared. He joined the Cheshire Regiment (service number 13209), but never served abroad with the Regiment. He was probably transferred to the South Lancashires at the end of training.
Throughout the middle of April 1918, the South Lancashires were fighting defensive actions under the weight of German attacks in the second phase of its spring offensive. However, by the end of the month, the offensive had petered out. Joseph and his comrades were in trenches near the village of La Clytte (about 8 kilometres to the west of the Belgian town of Ypres - now Ieper). Immediately on their right was a Battalion of French troops. At 2am on 30 April, orders were given that, as the French were pushing forward about 500 yards, the South Lancashires and the West Riding Battalion on the left must also do the same. The South Lancashires moved forward as planned, but then realised that for some reason, the neighbouring units had not moved, so they had to fall back to their original line.
At 6pm, fresh orders were given for the 500 yard advance and this was undertaken at 8pm. Joseph was one of ten men to be killed during the day. His body was never recovered and identified.
After the War, when the War Graves Commission collected its casualty information, Neville Brewin, who was listed as Joseph's next of kin, was living at 81 Bramhall Lane.