Sunday, January 27, 2008

the soldier bear

'voytek', a bear that was adopted in the middle east by polish troops in 1943, has had a campaign launched in scotland to put up a permanent memorial to his life and work says the bbc:

"He was found wandering in the hills of Iran by Polish soldiers in 1943. They adopted him and as he grew he was trained to carry heavy mortar rounds. When Polish forces were deployed to Europe the only way to take the bear with them was to "enlist" him. So he was given a name, rank and number and took part in the Italian campaign. He saw action at Monte Cassino before being billeted - along with about 3,000 other Polish troops - at the army camp in the Scottish Borders. The soldiers who were stationed with him say that he was easy to get along with. "He was just like a dog - nobody was scared of him," said Polish veteran Augustyn Karolewski, who still lives near the site of the camp. "He liked a cigarette, he liked a bottle of beer - he drank a bottle of beer like any man." When the troops were demobilised, Voytek spent his last days at Edinburgh Zoo."

more details in an article from the daily mail here.

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