On 6th June 1916, Joseph joined the British Army as a Private, serving initially with the Border Regiment. During August he transferred to 126th Company of the Machine Gun Corps (MGC). Joseph was posted to the Western Front and was wounded in the shoulder in May 1917. He recovered, returned to the fighting and was killed on 14th October 1917 during the First Battle of Passchendaele.
Joseph was buried in Coxyde Military Cemetery, West Flanders, Belgium, with the wording on his headstone specified by Effie – ‘Artist, Oldham, Lancashire’. He is also commemorated on the war memorial at Storth, Morecambe Bay, where Effie was living at the time of her husband’s death.