Friday, February 01, 2008

Wojtek Soldier Bear

Voytek was an Iranian bear who was adopted as a cub by Polish soldiers in the British army in 1943. Initially Voytek was just a mascot, but as he got bigger he helped his friends out by carrying ammunition for them. He was also known to sit in the front-seat of jeeps. Off-duty, he would wrestle with his comrades, or join them in a beer or cigarette.

He was actually enlisted into the British army so that he could travel with the Poles to Italy, where he served at Monte Cassino. The unit was so grateful for his help that a representation of him carrying a shell became their emblem.

After the war, most of the Polish soldiers went back to Poland, where they had a hard time of it from the new Communist regime there. Voytek was spared that, though he did end up living out his days in Edinburgh zoo. Like many former soldiers, he found the adjustment to civilian life difficult, though he always liked when his former comrades came to visit him, and would always wave to anyone who called to him in Polish.

Now there is apparently talk of making a film about Voytek, or of putting up a monument to him in the Borders area of Scotland, where he was stationed for a while.


Anonymous said...

Awwww, what a sweet fluffernutter!

janie said...

sheds a whole new light on bearing arms!

Anonymous said...