The son of William Henry and Alice Louisa Hicken, Joseph was born in Bridgend, Glamorgan, in 1897. His father was described on the 1901 census as a “missionary to navvies”, so the family, which consisted of Joseph, his parents, and sibligns Maud E., Henry R., and William Edward, moved around the country a great deal. In 1901 they were at Heptonstall in Yorkshire, and by 1911 they were back in Glamorgan. Joseph became a labourer for a plumber.
Joseph enlisted with the Brecknockshire Battalion of the South Wales Borderers (number 2182, later 200591), first serving in the Asiatic from 3 July 1915 and rising to become a Serjeant. He died in Bombay, India on 12 July 1917. At some point, the family had moved to Wolverhampton, as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission gives his parents’ address as 53 Emerson Road, Low Hill, Wolverhampton. He is remembered at the Kirkee 1914-1918 memorial in India.