Joseph Adams was born at Wooton, Northamptonshire but had moved to this area from Farnborough. His parents were Fred and Elizabeth. He lived at 159 Grove Lane, Cheadle Hulme, with his wife, Elizabeth. However, by 1918, Elizabeth was no longer living at this address and is believed to have died. Joseph worked for Stockport Waterworks on the Disley to Alderley section but his actual occupation was not known. The 1901 Census shows him living in Newport Pagnall and working as a general labourer at a railway carriage works
He was an army reservist and was mobilised at the outbreak of war and ordered to return to Aldershot. Private Adams was badly wounded in the foot at the Battle of the Aisne in September 1914 and spent several months in hospital before returning to duty.
In early September 1918, the Battalion was in the vicinity of Nieppe, on the outskirts of Armentieres, engaged in what proved to be the final advances of the war. The Germans were being forced back on an almost daily basis. On the 7th, the Battalion had received orders to make a further attack. The enemy must have been aware that this was likely as, at dawn, an artillery barrage was launched some 500 yards in front of the Yorkshires. During the early morning, a British barrage started. As the attack was launched, smoke was supposed to have been mixed with the explosive shells to conceal the advance, but, for the first few minutes, it was insufficient. The Germans held a strong point in nearby farm buildings. This could not be captured and their machine gun caused many casualties amongst the British troops. By 11am, the Battalion was still some 1200 yards from its objective. With the troops exhausted, the Battalion dug-in and was relieved during the night. Joseph was one of 30 members of the Battalion who had been killed during the day.
The Stockport Advertiser, 4 October 1918, reported that "One of his last acts was to parade before the king on his recent visit to France as the representative of his battalion of the "Old Contemptibles of 1914"