'I'm saying goodbye': Falklands War veteran Simon Weston returns for final farewell 40 years on

Welsh war veteran Simon Weston has made an emotional journey to mark 40 years since the start of the Falklands War, saying this will be his "final farewell".

The 60-year-old, from Caerphilly, is the most seriously injured survivor of the 74-day conflict, which saw Britain and Argentina battle for control of the Falkland Islands.

A British task force set out on 5 April 1982 to recover the territory, three days after it was invaded by Argentina.

On 8 June that year, Mr Weston was aboard the British ship Sir Galahad when it was bombed and set alight at Fitzroy, causing the deaths of 48 crew members and soldiers, and wounding 97 more.

The former Welsh Guard, then 20 years old, was left with burns so severe that his own mother did not recognise him.

The Duke of Edinburgh pins the South Atlantic Medal on Simon Weston in December 1982. Credit: PA Images

'I'm saying goodbye to my friends for the very last time'

Less than a week later, on 14 June, Argentina surrendered to Great Britain and the Falklands War was over.

Mr Weston has since gone on to become an enduring symbol of the conflict, which claimed the lives of 255 British military personnel in total.

Four decades on, Mr Weston has returned to the Falklands for what he says is a "bittersweet" visit.

Speaking on ITV's Good Morning Britain, he said: "I'm saying goodbye to my friends for the very last time.

"They will forever be here. They will forever be on the memorials; in the graves.

"That's left me with a bittersweet taste in my mouth, because they were important. They were important to me; they were important to us as a regiment; they were important to their families."

British ship Sir Galahad ablaze after the Argentine air raid on 8 June 1982. Credit: PA Images

'I was having nightmares... something had to break that cycle'

Incredibly, Mr Weston is now friends with the pilot of one of the fighter jets that bombed Sir Galahad and another British ship, Sir Tristram, injuring him and killing his comrades.

The relationship began 30 years ago, with Mr Weston admitting: "I wanted to meet the guy... I wanted to see if he had life in his eyes."

The veteran had been experiencing recurring nightmares of a "black jet" with a "hooded, flame-eyed demonic figure" racing over him every night.

He said: "I was rolling around the bedroom at four, three o'clock in the morning, covered in sweat... My side of the bed was soaking. And my wife could do nothing about it. Something had to break that cycle."

A timeline of the 74-day conflict. Credit: PA Graphics

'I needed help and I didn't know where to get it from'

The chance came via a fly-on-the-wall documentary, which enabled the two men to meet - but great caution was needed when liaising with the Argentinian authorities.

"Obviously they feared for what I might do," Mr Weston recalled.

"You don't want to have two ex-combatants meeting in a protected or stabilised environment, so we had to be very careful. But good things came out of it and that's the most important thing."

He added: "I did it for me. I didn't go there on a journey for any other Welsh Guards or their families - I did it for me.

"I know it didn't sit comfortably with some people. But at that point I needed help and I didn't know where to get it from."

Steel helmets abandoned by Argentine armed forces who surrendered to British Falklands task force troops. Credit: PA Images

'You do develop your own abilities of coping as life goes on'

Despite the horrors he experienced in the Falklands, Mr Weston says he's been able to "take positives" from it.

"I think some of the positives were always there, and the ability to deal with things," he said.

"Some of it is learned from when you do your military training. You're put under great duress because of the nature of the job.

"But you do develop your own abilities of coping as life goes on."

When asked about the war in Ukraine, Mr Weston said: "We just have to be as resilient as we can be in the name of the Ukrainian people.

"They didn't deserve this - they didn't ask for it; they didn't create this problem."

He added: "What do they say about history? We're destined to repeat it."