Welsh Falklands war veteran Simon Weston has been on an intensely personal journey as he revisited the place that scarred his life forever. For the thirtieth anniversary of the conflict the former Welsh Guard returned to the scene of the conflict.
‘The day that I got blown up my life changed quite literally in a flash. But I had no idea as to what extent it would change.’
Simon Weston became known as the face of the Falklands after suffering 46% burns when his ship the Sir Galahad was bombed. 36 of his comrades lost their lives that day. Simon was one of 28 thousand British troops sent to defend the Falkland islands, Britain’s most remote territory, after Argentina invaded on the 2nd April 1982. The war may only have lasted 74 days but in that time 255 British servicemen lost their lives, 649 Argentineans also died. When HMS Sir Galahad was attacked Simon was lucky to escape with his life.
‘All we heard was ‘it was air-raid warning green. It's red, it's red, get down, get down’. That was the last thing I heard before the bomb and I saw the bomb come through. And it came through about ten, twelve feet in front of me. It just tore through where I left my kit. It went straight into there and detonated then.
You know I was fortunate enough to get out, the three lads in front of me took the blast. You witness an awful lot of horrible things.’
He still carries guilt for the fact he survived when his comrades did not.
‘It was harder without a doubt losing your friends. Injuries are just injuries, you can get fit, you can get healthy, you can get well again. You are never coming back the same person, it’s impossible, but you can always live.’
Despite this he’s glad he was there and the union jack was raised in Port Stanley reclaiming the area for British citizens.
‘I feel proud that I was a part of it although my part was just getting injured. There were so many others who paid a much higher price.’
Even though the journey has meant confronting the horrors he suffered Simon says the experience was cathartic. He was surprised by the scenery and wildlife on the island which has helped him make peace with the past.
‘It makes the injuries so much more bearable seeing the beauty and the success of the islands. Although I'm over the worst of it… You always have moments. But for me I will always look at this and say you know, what I went through, this was all worthwhile.’
Though he may still bear the physical scars of that day nearly thirty years ago, fresh memories have healed his perception of the place that changed his life forever.
‘Return to The Falklands’, ITV1 and ITV1 HD, 9pm