Joseph was born in Bridgend, Glamorganshire, on 18 April 1891, the son of John Thomas and Mary Hannah Onions. By 1911, the family had moved to 6 Clark Road, Wolverhampton, and Joseph and his parents were joined by siblings Edith Nellie, Arthur John, Percy Foster and Ethel Maud. Joseph was a clerk.
On 9 August 1915, Joseph enlisted with the 3rd/6th Rifle Battalion of the Kings’s Liverpool Regiment (number 3773). His home address was now 162 Lea Road. From 10 February 1916, her served in France, before he was killed in action on 7 August 1916. The personal effects sent home to his mother consisters of 1 disc, letters, 1 purse, 1 stylo pen, 5 keys on key ring, 1 leather watch guard, 1 wrist watch in strap, 1 pocket containing photos, 1 knife, 2 bullets, 1 coin, and 1 linen bag. His service records also include a letter from Sergeant John Wise of the Wolverhampton Police dated 17 February 1921. This states that he had “made enquiries” at 162 Lea Road, “and ascertained that they reason why they did not reply was, that it would only bring more trouble to the home if the Memorial Plaque and Scroll was sent.” Joseph is buried at the Peronne Road Cemetery, Maricourt, France.