Joseph was born in Mossley in about 1881 and lived there until he was at least 20. The Census, taken in the spring of 1901, shows the Brooks family living at 6 Radcliffe's Buildings in the town. His father, Samuel, then 68, was a grocer. His mother was 54 year-old Grace. Also at home was Edward (22), Florence (17), Fanny (14) and Fred (12). Joseph was working as a cotton spinner.
He is known to have married Sarah at some point. Although it is not possible to be absolutely certain that they are the same people, family history websites record the marriage of a Joseph Brooks to Sarah Schofield at St Paul's Church, Portwood in 1917.
Joseph's army service number was not issued before the beginning of 1917, so it seems possible that he married before going overseas on active service. He enlisted at Oldham, perhaps suggesting he was still living in the Mossley area. After the War, Sarah was living at 22 Gill Street, Brinnington but it's not known if this was the home they shared.
The 1/4th South Lancashires was a Pioneer battalion. Pioneers were trained fighting soldiers but their main role was in the construction of defences. They would, for example, form part of the second wave of a major attack and, once in the German trench, would prepare it against counter-attack.
On 8 & 9 September 1917, the Battalion's War Diary records that the men from "C" Company were digging a trench to carry telephone cables forward to a position known as "Douglas Villa". The Diary only records the death of one man, although other records, published after the War, note three killed in action. It is possible that Joseph was hit by enemy shellfire and, potentially, buried by the blast. This would account for his lack of a known grave.
After the War, Samuel and Grave Brooks were living at 164 Whitegate lane, Hollinwood, Oldham.