Polish Soldier Bear To Be Commemorated in UK

Private Wojtek (pr. Voytek), a Syrian bear who served alongside Polish troops in the Second World War, is due to be commemorated in Edinburgh - the city where he ended his years - with a full-scale monument.A model of the statue was unveiled this month, depicting the much-loved bear with his keeper, Mr. Peter Prendys.

Although his story has only recently captured the popular imagination, during the war, Wojtek won legendary status amongst the Allied troops. Adopted as a cub whilst Polish troops were training in the Middle East, he slept in the soldiers' tents and once he'd grown up, enjoyed a beer and a cigarette with the boys. Later, as his cohorts relate, he helped carry missile shells in the key battle of Monte Cassino. A silhouette of the bear carrying ammo became the official symbol of his company.

After the war, Wojtek was unable to get back to Poland, as Stalin had installed his puppet government there. The bear ended his days in Edinburgh zoo, where exiled veterans tried to cheer him up with a cheeky cigarette. Backers of the statue are in negotiation with city authorities about a suitable place for the monument.


not shown