Polish tales – Wojtek the Soldier Bear

I wanted to write about one of my favourite Polish stories, of Wojtek the bear.  It’s a true story and is actually pretty well known, but just in case you haven’t heard I’ll provide my own overview and some links to more detailed information.

Poland has a really interesting history and I can highly recommend spending some time reading about it.  But my favourite story of them all is about Wojtek, a Syrian brown bear who was bought in Iran by the Polish II Corps soldiers.  He was actually enlisted into the Polish army, as a Private and eventually got promoted to Corporal!

He was with the Polish army at the Battle of Montecassino in Italy in 1944 and helped with moving crates of ammo and artillery shells.  He was often rewarded with beer, which became his favourite drink. He also enjoyed smoking (or eating) cigarettes.  He loved wrestling with the soldiers and was taught to salute when greeted.

After the war, he was moved to Edinburgh Zoo and spent the rest of his life there.

If you’d like to read more about Wojtek, I highly recommend this book by Aileen Orr which really tells the full story.

Click on the picture to go straight to Amazon

And if you wanted to know more about Poland’s fascinating history in more detail, and spanning back hundreds of years, I’d have to suggest this book by Norman Davies

Click on the picture to go straight to Amazon

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