Chris Ryan

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Chris Ryan
Birth nameColin Armstrong
Born1961 (age 61–62)
Rowlands Gill, County Durham, England
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1978–1994
Service number24496702
UnitB Squadron, 22 Special Air Service
Parachute Regiment
23 Special Air Service
Battles/warsThe Troubles
Cambodian–Vietnamese War
Gulf War
AwardsMilitary Medal
Other workAuthor, television presenter

Colin Armstrong, MM (born 1961),[1] usually known by the pen-name Chris Ryan, is a British author, television presenter, security consultant and former Special Air Service sergeant.[2]

After the publication of fellow patrol member Andy McNab's Bravo Two Zero in 1993, Ryan published his own account of his experiences during the Bravo Two Zero mission in 1995, entitled The One That Got Away. Since retiring from the British Army Ryan has published several fiction and non-fiction books, including Strike Back, which was subsequently adapted into a television series for Sky 1, and co-created the ITV action series Ultimate Force. He has also presented or appeared in numerous television documentaries connected to the military or law enforcement.

Early life, education and military service[edit]

Ryan was born in Rowlands Gill in County Durham. After attending Hookergate School, he enrolled in the British Army at the age of 16. Ryan's cousin was a member of the reservist 23 SAS Regiment and invited Ryan to come up and "see what it's like to be in the army".[3]: 85  Ryan did this nearly every weekend, almost passing selection several times, but was too young to do 'test week'. When he was old enough, he passed selection into 23 SAS. Shortly after that he began selection for the regular 22 SAS Regiment and joined 'B' Squadron as a medic. Needing a parent regiment, Ryan and a soldier who had joined 22 SAS from the Royal Navy, spent eight weeks with the Parachute Regiment before returning to 'B' Squadron.[3]: 100–102 

During the 1980s he was part of an SAS team sent to Thailand by the UK government to train members of the Khmer Rouge in tactics used to attack civilians in Cambodia.[4][5][6][7]

Bravo Two Zero[edit]

During the Gulf War, Ryan was a team member of the ill-fated eight-man SAS patrol, with the call sign Bravo Two Zero. The patrol was sent into Iraq to "gather intelligence,... find a good LUP (lying up position) and set up an OP (observation post)" on the main supply route (MSR) between Baghdad and North-Western Iraq, and eventually take out the Scud TELs.[3]: 16 

However they were compromised and forced to head towards Syria on foot. Ryan walked 300 kilometres (190 mi), from an observation point on the Iraqi MSR between Baghdad and North-Western Iraq, to the Syrian Border.[3]: 233  This march made SAS history as the "longest escape and evasion by an SAS trooper or any other soldier", covering 100 miles (160 km) more than SAS trooper Jack Sillito had in the Sahara Desert in 1942.[citation needed]

During his escape, Ryan suffered injuries from drinking water contaminated with nuclear waste.[8] Besides suffering severe muscle atrophy, he lost 36 lb (16 kg) and did not return to operational duties. Instead, he selected and trained potential recruits, before being honourably discharged from the SAS in 1994.[citation needed]

On 29 June 1991 Ryan was awarded the Military Medal "in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the Gulf in 1991" although the award was not gazetted until 15 December 1998 together with the equally delayed announcement of Andy McNab's Distinguished Conduct Medal.[9]

Post-military career[edit]

After leaving the SAS, Ryan wrote The One That Got Away, which covers the account from his patrol report of the Bravo Two Zero mission. Both his and McNab's accounts have been heavily criticised by former territorial SAS member and explorer Michael Asher, who attempted to retrace the patrol's footsteps for TV and claimed to have debunked both accounts with the help of his friend, the then-SAS regimental sergeant major Peter Ratcliffe.[10][11]

Ryan has written more than 70 books, both fiction and non-fiction. Many of his works are well known, such as fictional works like Strike Back (2007), which was adapted into the TV show, and Firefight (September 2008). He also writes fictional books for teenage readers, including the Alpha Force Series and "Code Red", and has written a romantic novel, The Fisherman's Daughter, under the pseudonym Molly Jackson.[12]

In addition to his writing Ryan has contributed to several television series and video games. In 2002 Ryan co-created and appeared in ITV's action series, Ultimate Force, playing the role of Blue Troop leader Staff Sergeant Johnny Bell in the first series. He acted as a military adviser for the video game I.G.I.-2: Covert Strike.[citation needed]

Ryan was the star of BBC One's Hunting Chris Ryan in 2003 which later aired on the Military Channel as Special Forces Manhunt. In 2004 Ryan produced several programmes titled Terror Alert: Could You Survive, demonstrating how to survive disasters including flooding, nuclear terrorist attack, mass blackouts, and plane hijackings. In 2005, Ryan presented a Sky One show called How Not to Die, detailing how to survive various life-threatening situations. In 2007 Ryan trained and managed a six-man team to represent Team GB at Sure for Men's Extreme Pamplona Chase in Spain during the Running of the Bulls and also appeared in an episode of the Derren Brown series, Mind Control with Derren Brown, where he booby-trapped a course for Brown to follow whilst blindfolded. Ryan presented the television series Elite World Cops, also broadcast as Armed and Dangerous, which aired on Bravo in 2008. In the show, Ryan spends time with law enforcement agencies around the world.

Personal life[edit]

Ryan has a daughter. He killed his pet dog, a bull terrier, for growling at his daughter.[13]

His experiences in Iraq caused him to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. Also, following his consumption of radioactive water during his Bravo Two Zero escape he was warned not to have any children in the future.[8]


Ryan has written the following books:[14]



  1. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  2. ^ Asher, Michael (2003). The Real Bravo Two Zero. Cassell & Co. p. 2. ISBN 0304365548.
  3. ^ a b c d Ryan, Chris (1995). The One That Got Away. London: Century. ISBN 9780099641612.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ The Elite: The A-Z of Modern Special Operations Forces. Osprey Publishing, 2019. L. Neville.
  7. ^ [3]
  8. ^ a b Manger, Warren (27 August 2014). "SAS hero Chris Ryan: I drank radioactive water in Iraq, which meant I'd never have children". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  9. ^ "No. 55340". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 December 1998. p. 13620.
  10. ^ Burke, Jason (26 May 2002). "Battle of SAS gets bloody". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  11. ^ Freeman, Simon (16 March 2003). "The new Battle of the Books". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  12. ^ Edemariam, Aida (27 October 2008). "The new star of romantic fiction: ex-SAS hardman Chris Ryan". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 January 2010.
  13. ^ [4]
  14. ^ "Chris Ryan". Retrieved 8 January 2010.

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