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Monday, November 8, 1999 Published at 06:44 GMT

UK: Wales

Weston on war: 'There are no winners'

An Argentine bomb triggered a massive fire on the Sir Galahad

The severe burns that ex-soldier Simon Weston brought back from the Falklands War masked the deep mental scars left by the conflict.

He survived the inferno that swept the Sir Galahad troopship, but along with most veterans he has had to deal with the psychological trauma.

In the foreword to a new book which - for the first time - studies the long-term effects of war, he describes what those mental and physical scars taught him.

"There was a time after the Falklands when I drank far too much, trying to hide the pain that was eating at me from the inside," he said.

[ image: Simon Weston is now best known for his charity work]
Simon Weston is now best known for his charity work
"I tried to hide from the grief I felt for the friends I'd lost, as well as my own very real grief for the person I knew I'd no longer be."

"Bloody Hell", published by the Plough Publishing House, is based on research carried out by Dr Nigel Hunt of Nottingham Trent University.

He concluded after a study of 709 veterans that over half had suffered permanent psychological trauma.

Of the WWII soldiers he interviewed, traumatic symptoms remained - 50 years after the war.

"Many veterans feel a deep bitterness about the way they are neglected which only exacerbates their psychological difficulties," said Dr Hunt.

[ image:
"Bloody Hell" is the first large-scale study of trauma
His findings were used for the basis of a series of interviews by former marine Dan Hallock.

Simon Weston explained how he dealt with his memories and feelings.

"I had a huge grieving process to go through. Thankfully, I learned not to bottle it up, but it took a long time.

"Otherwise, I'm sure, it would have killed me. I've reconciled things within myself. I don't go around hating people."

Seventeen years after the Falklands War, the former Welsh Guardsman is now best known for his charity work.

"I want to enjoy my life, and I want others to be able to enjoy theirs - which is why I put so much time into working with inner-city youth through my own charity, Weston Spirit.

'There are no winners'

"I can't enjoy life if I'm twisted up in hatred and bitterness. I've learned you can't afford to carry that kind of baggage with you. If you do, it will destroy you.

"I'm not interested in war anymore.

"I'm not interested in the reunions, getting together with the old mates and patting each other on the back, saying - damn didn't we do a good job?

"What, shoot and kill and bomb their side?

"You'll find there's nothing victorious or glorious gained in a conflict.

"You've got two sets of soldiers: the losers and the losers.

"It's just a matter of who loses most heavily. There are no winners."

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