Bear Serving Polish Army

At the beginning of the second world war, Poland was divided into two parts, the western territories controlled by Germany and the eastern part controlled by Russia, making the country lose its sovereignty.

Unfortunately, when Germany invaded Russia, the Polish troops captured by Russia were released on condition of aiding the Allies.

In 1942 under British command, several Polish military units landed in Persia towards Egypt and Palestine. They went to form the Artillery Supply Company Poland 22 of the Second Army Corps.


When they arrived in the mountains, they saw an Iranian shepherd boy playing with a bear. The mother and father of the bear were killed by the hunters there.

The shepherd finally agreed to turn the bear into a Polish army with some food. Thus, the bear accompanied the Polish soldiers throughout their journey. It was later named Wojtek.

Some people think this name means "He who enjoys war". Wojtek grew up with the Polish army. At first, Wojtek was only given milk to the extent that Wojtek could chew food.


Living in a military setting on the battlefield made Wojtek begin to approach beer. This is even his favorite drink. Like a bear growing up, Wojtek loves to fight with anyone. In addition to the soldiers, Wojtek also fought regularly with a Dalmatian dog who also joined the Polish army.

As if there was no match, Wojtek tried to fight the Polish cavalry. However, the horse strong kick made Wotjek K.O. From then on Wojtek became scared and always avoided the cavalry. Wojtek's first recorded service was when he successfully caught the thief.

It was reported that one night a thief had entered the ammunition storage. The thief was then surprised to find a large bear in the room and thwarted the thief's mission. Apparently Wojtek always slept every night in that place. On top of his service though doing nothing at all, Wojtek got a special gift of beer!


When the Polish military unit approached Italy they had a problem. Wojtek was just a bear, he would not be able to board a ship heading to Naples Italy. Finally, they decided to give Wojtek the position of corporal. Wojtek was also taught how to be respectful as a soldier.

Arriving in Naples, a British army officer in charge of the registry named Archibald Brown was surprised that when Corporal Wojtek's name was called, no one responded.

This caused some problems until Brown was finally taken to where Wojtek was. Brown was shocked to see the brown-haired corporal relaxing in the cage.


Wojtek has finally officially joined the team. His job was to deliver bombs to the troops in the front row.

Wojtek was also the mascot of the Polish unit's pride. By the end of the war, Wojtek could still enjoy his association with around 3000 Polish troops at the Berwickshire camp.


Until 1947, when all the troops returned to their hometown, Wojtek moved to his new home at the Edinburgh Zoo. For many years thereafter, his friends in the military unit frequently visited the corporal Wojtek.

They came by waving their hands and paying their respects to Wojtek. Wojtek would respond by moving his ear when he heard Polish.


One of the former soldiers in charge of Wojtek came to visit the Zoo and explained

"When I say his name, he'll sit behind and shake his head for a cigarette" When they throw a cigarette at Wojtek in remembrance of a long friendship, they will immediately go down when no one will light a cigarette for Wotjek.


At the age of 22, Wojtek died. The average Syrian brown bear is 48 years old, but Wojtek only reaches half of it. Perhaps Wotjek lost the turbulent environment of the battlefield in the sense of his name, "He who enjoys war".


Wotjek is still remembered as a mascot and a pride badge, the official symbol of the 22nd Transport Company unit.


To commemorate his service, many memorial statues were erected, including a monument at the Edinburgh Zoo, a statue of the War Museum, the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, and a statue at the Sikorski Museum in London by David Harding.

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