Joseph's inscription on the Stockport War Memorial records him serving with the cavalry. This is misleading as he actually served with the Army Service Corps and his ASC Company was only attached to the cavalry.
He had been born in Audenshaw but, by the time of the 1901 Census, the family was living in a four roomed house at 20 Burnage Lane, Heaton Mersey. His parents, James (a domestic gardener) and Elizabeth were then aged 40. Their children were recorded as being William, 16; Joseph, 10; Emily, 8; John, 4 and Bertha, 1.
Before he enlisted, in 1915, Joseph worked as a groom for a Colonel Mandleburg in Fallowfield, Manchester and it, perhaps, no surprise that he found himself still working with horses in the Army. He was assigned to 557 Company, which was formed in November 1915 and was, originally, intended for service as a Base Depot in the Middle East. However, it was eventually created as an Auxiliary Horse Transport Company and attached to 4th Cavalry Division in France. It was literally, the "workhorse" of the Division carrying stores and supplies from base dumps to the forward troops.
Although not in the front line, the men of the Army Service Corps had dangerous jobs to fulfil and, as their wagons travelled along well known roads, they were easy targets for the German artillery. But Joseph managed to survive three years of war and did not die until two weeks after the Armistice. 1918 saw an epidemic of influenza which caused millions of deaths world wide. Joseph would be one of them.
His Captain wrote to his parents, at their then address of Pink Bank House, Nelstrop Road, Heaton Chapel. "Your son was a good soldier and an excellent man in every way and respected by every man in the Company. He, together with fourteen others, were knocked down with influenza just as we were starting on the march to Germany and I had to send him to hospital just before we crossed the border into Belgium. I cannot tell you how sorry I am to lose him. He has done excellent work all through, continuously going up to the trenches at night under shell and machine gun fire with no thought of fear and always ready to go anywhere. It is indeed hard luck to have gone through what he has and be knocked out by pneumonia. The fact that he died like a man, serving his country, will, I hope, be a little consolation to you in your great sorrow."