Lieutenant Colonel Thorold M. C. Marsaw – Born on August 10th 1931, “Boom” Marsaw donned his first uniform as a cadet the year the Second World War came to an end. Eventually rising to the rank of Cadet Lieutenant Colonel, he led his unit to the winning of the Lord Strathcona Shield as the best Corps in Western Ontario. At sixteen he enlisted in London’s 9th Signal Regiment (Militia) and by the time he graduated from high school in 1951 he had reached the rank of Sergeant.
Being disappointed in not having been old enough to be involved in the European conflict, immediately after high school he enlisted for service in Korea and eventually headed overseas as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 2nd Battalion of the Queen’s Own.
His capacities as a leader received early recognition and in 1953 it led to his appointment as Demonstration Platoon Commander at the Infantry Corp School. So impressed was the School that they sought to retain he and his platoon indefinitely. Colonel “Wild Bill” Matthews said, “No, we are going to war and we want them back.”
By early 1954 Marsaw was on his way to Korea. His tour of duty included leading the battalion’s Machine Gun Platoon and the rather unique opportunity of commanding a platoon of ROC Army (South Korean) soldiers. He was also given the honour of heading the Canadian contingent at the opening of the Saiwan Bay Cemetery honouring those who had died in defence of Hong Kong in 1941. For a time he served as Liaison Officer to the ROC Army.
On his return to Canada he was posted as a recruiting officer in Vancouver where his most renowned enrollee was his wife Irene whom he promised to take to Germany if she said yes, a promise he honoured only months later following his return to Regimental duty with the 1st Battalion in Victoria.
In 1957-60 in addition to commanding an infantry platoon he lead the battalion Pioneers and was one of the units six reconnaissance officers assigned to execute lay-back patrols. The battalion returned to Canada in 1960 when for a brief time Marsaw filled the role of Assistant Adjutant just prior to his posting to the Administration/Quartermaster Staff of 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade Group in Calgary.
In 1965 his graduation from Staff College, Kingston, opened the door to many professional opportunities. These included his appointment to the operational staff of an American Brigade (Alaska), and the role of GSO2 of 1st British Corps in Bielefeld, Germany.
In October 1965, his immediate posting to the staff of Western Command in Edmonton lasted a mere two months and he found himself on his way to UNIPOM (United Nations India Pakistan Observer Mission), as a peacekeeper. At the time it proved to be the most successful operation in UN history; in and out in five months. On return to Canada his appointment at Western Command had been filled and he returned to regimental duty in Victoria.
In 1967 he was a key player in western Canada’s Centennial celebration commanding the modern scene in the national tattoo and taking a regimental mini tattoo throughout much of British Colombia as well as serving as Aide to Lieutenant-Governor George Pearkes V.C.
In April 1969 just three years after his promotion to major and his tour of duty with 1Br Corps was cut short and he was returned to Victoria BC to take command of 1st Battalion, Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada. During these years with the unit it was Canada’s mountain warfare and Arctic operations battalion, our national component in AMF(L), NATO’s ready force assigned to the defence of Norway.
His time in command concluded with the unit’s deployment to Cyprus. This occurred shortly after it was rebadged as the Third Battalion of the Patricia’s.
Boom’s next posting in 1971 was to the Combat Arms School at Camp Gagetown in New Brunswick where for a year he became the first infantry officer to command the School of Artillery. In the second year he was given command of the Tactical Training Wing responsible for qualifying Combat Team Commanders for the combat arms. In his final posting he was Senior Staff Officer (Doctrine) at Mobile Command, in St. Hubert, Quebec. Over the years Colonel Marsaw served in Korea, India, Pakistan, Germany, Norway, Cyprus and Alaska.
In 1977 Colonel Marsaw took an early retirement to begin his service of 25 years as a Baptist pastor.