Two brothers deployed to Estonia with the British Army as part of the UK’s Nato commitments, have joked that their parents are glad they are not at home.
Both Fusilier Lee Hilmer-Hills, 18, and his sibling Lance Corporal Alex Hilmer-Hills, 22, from Pembrokeshire are currently based in the town of Tapa with the 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh.
With temperatures regularly below freezing, the pair have recently undertaken Exercise Winter Camp – spending nine full days and nights in the snowy Estonian forest.
Marking his first deployment, when quizzed on what his favourite experience has been so far, Fus Hilmer-Hills told the Press Association: “Jumping out the back of a Warrior, I’d never done it before – it is quite exciting, I have quite enjoyed it.”
Soldiers from 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh simulate recovering a casualty during Exercise Winter Camp (Joe Giddens/PA)
They have been stationed in the Baltic country as part of the Nato’s Enhanced Forward Presence – which has seen more than 800 UK troops deployed to Estonia.
Fus Hilmer-Hills said he has not seen much of his brother during Exercise Winter Camp due to being in different platoons, and revealed how their parents do not mind them being deployed at the same time.
LCpl Hilmer-Hills has been in the Army for four years and when asked what their parents think of their joint tour, he said they are “proud”, before joking that “they’re glad we are not at home”.
Quizzed on whether it gets confusing given the brothers share the same name and work in the same Battalion, LCpl Hilmer-Hills admitted that it does.
Lance Corporal Alex Hilmer-Hills, 22, (left) and his brother Fusilier Lee Hilmer-Hills, 18 (Joe Giddens/PA)
“When people say Hills on the role, I say yeah and he says the same thing – so they use my rank now as well,” he added.
Revealing he is proud of how his younger brother has coped with everything, he added: “I have seen boys go back in already with cold injuries and he is still out here, so I am happy with that.
“If he ever needs help with anything, he can come to me.”
LCpl Hilmer-Hills said his biggest take away from the tour so far is getting used to, and working in, the extreme weather conditions.
“In the UK we get a bit of cold, a bit of rain, but it is nothing like -15C – so to me it is about surviving in this sort of weather,” he added.
Asked if he feels a more rounded soldier due to his time in Estonia, he said: “For me it’s more being able to train and operate in any environment.
“To be able to do Kenya, Canada and now this, it is a good mixture.”