This photo, likely taken circa 1919, shows six brothers - the sons of Joseph and Lucy Ridgway of Collingwood - all soldiers in World War I (back row, l-r: Eddie, Laurie, John and Tom; front row, l-r: Bert and Ernest). The sons gave the photo to their parents after returning from the war, with a note written on the back of a business card from the Collingwood Shipyards: "To mother & dad, from the boys, with best love."
Joseph and Lucy Ridgway had brought their family of six sons and three daughters to Collingwood in 1907, from the Manchester/Crewe area of England. Like many emigrating families they had come to Canada to provide a better life for their children. Joseph was reported to have commented that the reason they came to Collingwood was the Shipyard; he felt it would provide steady employment for his six sons.
One of the sons, Tom Ridgway, had some extraordinary experiences during the war. He served in the infantry in France, including the battle at Vimy Ridge. He was later recruited to an elite force that was being sent on a 'hush-hush' mission. Forty-six Canadians were included in a 150-soldier international team labelled the Dunsterforce, after the British officer in charge, General Lionel Dunsterville. Amazingly, another young Collingwood recruit, William Thomas Brophy, was in the same unit. Their mission took them to Baku, a city on the west coast of the Caspian Sea, in modern Azerbaijan. Tom's experience as a pipefitter at the Shipyards served him well; he was a bomber (trained in the use of grenades) during the mission. Brophy was credited with saving the life of an Australian officer.