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Joseph was born in Wolverhampton on 7 July 1894, the son of Henry and Harriet Elisabeth Bailey. In 1901 they were living at 208 Staveley Road, with Joseph’s sisters Emma Elizabeth, Florence and Gertrude, and brothers William Henry, Frederick and Arthur. By 1911, they were living at 55 Mostyn Street, Wolverhampton. Joseph was a boiler maker’s apprentice for the Great Western Railway company.

At the age of 17 on 17 April 1912, Joseph enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps (number 1860, later 421065) at Wolverhampton. He joined the 3rd North Midland Field Ambulance. He lef this apprenticeship on 29 July 1914, and disembarked for France on 8 March 1915. He was awarded 7 days “F.[ield] P.[unishment] No 1“on 8 February 1916 “for Improper reply to N.C.O.”. On 23 May 1917 he was suffering from “N.[ot] Y.[et] D.[iagnosed] Fever”. He was gassed and wounded in action on 4 October 1918, and was taken to hospital in Rouen, before being sent to England. He died in Wolverhampton General Hospital on 16 December 1918 of Phosgene poisoning from being gassed, and suffering from jaundice. Tragically, his mother Harriet had died a few months earlier, on 16 October 1918, of a carcinoma of the uterus.

His father, Henry, received Joseph’s 1914-15 Star on his behalf on 2 October 1920, and his British War Medal on 22 June 1922. Joseph is buried at Wolverhampton Borough Cemetery, and he is commemorated on the RAMC memorial in St Peter’s Church.