Northern Ireland To Hong Kong: A Tale Of Drugs, Organised Crime & Redemption

'Coming Home: Chris Thrall' is a feature-length story about addiction, redemption and recovery chronicling Royal Marine Chris Thrall's journey from Royal Marine Commando to a crystal meth addicted gang member of the notorious Hong Kong Triads.

Chris joined the Royal Marines after a troubled start to life and the military was a great home initially but he soon found himself experimenting with hard drugs.

His hedonistic life quickly led to alienation with the forces and he found a new chance as a businessman in Hong Kong.

Drugs remained a constant, however, leading Chris to organised crime and despair.

Now, he tells his story presented here in a podcast by Forces Radio BFBS.

'Coming Home: Chris Thrall' presents a frank yet funny look into addiction, how we treat our veterans and human resilience.

You can listen to the programme in full below - the programme contains strong language and references to drug use.

Chris documented his life in his autobiography Eating Smoke.

The following is an excerpt from the book following Chris' time during 'The Troubles'.

Chris Thrall Northern Ireland

The Ardoyne, Belfast, 1989. Four Two Commando Royal Marines had just arrived in the province for a five-month tour of duty.

On patrol, there were four in our ‘brick’, and being election night, tension in the city was high. Everyone knew the IRA would do all it could to interrupt the voting process.

Patrolling in single file, SA 80s held at the ready, thirty rounds of 5.56mm ammo in the magazine, we came across a small park with a tarmac footpath running along one side.

‘We won’t go up here,’ shouted ‘Tulley’ Tull, our corporal. ‘It’s renowned for booby traps. Break into diamond formation and we’ll cut across the grass.’

Chris Thrall

Just as ‘Jock’ Campbell, our tail-end Charlie, stepped backwards onto the neatly mown lawn, we heard BANG BANG… BANG, BANG BANG BANG, BANG! A sniper armed with a Kalashnikov had opened up from the window of a nearby house, its occupants taken hostage earlier in the day.

As tufts of grass flicked up at my feet, I heard Tulley holler, ‘Take f****** cover!’ and the sound of our firing mechanisms slamming home and echoing off walls.

We sprinted across the open space, making for a lone hut and almost diving on top of one another behind it in our attempt to avoid the incoming fire.

When I glanced back, hoping to locate the gunman and return a few rounds, I saw Jock lying sparked out on his front, thirty metres away. I scrambled up to run over and drag him into cover.   

‘Get the f*** down!’ screamed Tulley.

‘How the f*** can I do that?’ I thought, deciding to ignore him.

Chris Thrall

But before I’d taken five steps, Jock lifted his head and began looking around in a daze. Then in an instant, he gathered his wits, rifle and equipment – the latter items flung from his body – and came running over to collapse next to us.

‘I’m hit! I’m hit! I’m hit!’ he shrieked, as I ripped open his combat and flak jacket, searching for an entry and exit wound, and Tully got on the radio to inform HQ we’d been contacted and had a casualty.

‘Jock, you’re not f*****’ hit, mate!’ I yelled. ‘I can’t find any holes!’

‘I am! I am! I’m f*****’ hit!’ he screamed, desperate I believe him.

It wasn’t until we returned to base – Jock having the tenacity to refuse an ambulance and patrol in with us – that the truth prevailed.

Northern Ireland Chris Thrall

One round of 7.62mm had sliced the antenna off the electronic countermeasure unit he’d been carrying, another passing through his weapon sling and smashing into his chest.

Having knocked Jock to the ground, spinning him around and throwing off his gear, it ended up in the top pocket of his combat jacket. Being a ‘short’ round, fired from a distance of sixty metres, it had a lesser impact – enough for Jocky to live and fight another day.

As I was but five metres from Jock at the time, and with greeny brown geysers kicking up around me, it wasn’t difficult to work out who the shooter had set his sights on next.

Chris Thrall Today

Excerpt courtesy of John Blake Publishing.

You can read more about Chris' autobiography 'Eating Smoke' on his website http://www.christhrall.com

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