Falklands War veteran Simon Weston on his unlikely friendship with enemy pilot

'All my blood went to my feet' - Simon Weston on learning he narrowly escaped Falklands attack

Falklands War veteran Simon Weston has spoken of his unlikely friendship with the Argentinian fighter pilot who led the life-changing attack on him and his comrades 40 years ago today.

To mark the anniversary, the former Welsh Guardsman, from Caerphilly, recently travelled to Argentina for an emotional reunion with Carlos Cachón - the man he once fought against.

Mr Weston is the most severely injured survivor of the 74-day conflict, which saw Britain and Argentina battle for control of the Falkland Islands.

On 8 June 1982, 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 young soldier, then 20 years old, was left with burns so severe that his own mother did not recognise him.

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

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

'It's not personal - it's war'

Mr Weston says he bears no malice towards Carlos Cachón, despite the horrors he experienced at his hands.

Incredibly, the two have gone on to become firm friends - with Mr Weston even visiting Mr Cachón at home in Argentina and meeting his family, including his young grandchildren.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Mr Weston, 60, said: "It's not personal - it's war.

"The clue's in the title. You're going to do something unpleasant with people who are very pleasant - you meet them in other circumstances and you'd get on. But these circumstances brought you together."

He said Mr Cachón "didn't hesitate" when he was first approached 30 years ago about the two men coming face-to-face.

"For me, meeting Carlos was more about me having to exorcise my ghosts," he said.

"I had to get rid of some real demons that I had."

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

'He is just the nicest, most compassionate guy'

Mr Cachón was made aware that the Welshman had been battling mental ill health since the 1982 attack.

This included him experiencing recurring nightmares of a black fighter jet with a "hooded, flame-eyed demonic figure" racing over him every night.

Mr Weston said he would find himself rolling around "on fire" in the early hours of the morning, covered in sweat - and he hoped meeting his enemy would help to break the cycle.

"When [Carlos was asked] would he meet me, he instantly went 'Absolutely' - didn't hesitate," said Mr Weston.

"He said: 'I played a part in his problems - hopefully I can play a part in his solution'."

Mr Weston added: "He's got the softest brown eyes and he is just the nicest, most compassionate guy.

"He was just doing his job, and he did it incredibly well - sadly for me, sadly for my friends - but at the end of the day, it's called war."

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

'All my blood went to my feet'

During their recent reunion, Mr Cachón revealed that he was just 20 seconds from turning back before launching the attack on Sir Galahad.

The Argentine forces could not find any British ships and the aircraft was running out of fuel.

But then a junior squadron member spotted the British vessel at Fitzroy - and the deadly bombing commenced.

Mr Weston said this was the first time that he learned how close he came to being spared.

"I've got to be honest - all my blood went to my feet," he said.

"To know you were 20 seconds from safety... but [Carlos] didn't know who was on board the ship. It was a target to him. And that's what he trained all his military life for."

Simon Weston was joined by Carlos Cachón via videolink. Credit: Good Morning Britain

Mr Weston was joined on the programme by Mr Cachón via videolink, who said as a soldier he was simply focused on the mission ahead.

"I never thought about killing human beings," he added.

"We simply complied with our duty and our orders. Everything can change in a single second."

Mr Weston said: "It gets weirder, doesn't it - life.

"As [war prisoner] John Nichol said, it's not unusual that people make friends with their captors, with their enemy - but the circumstances surrounding each individual story are always unique.

"Carlos and I just seemed to get on - but it's his compassion and his humanity after the event that I will always thank him for."