0

Your Cart is Empty

Wojtek: The Polish Soldier Bear of World War II

World War II is the deadliest war in history. For one thing, it led to nearly 75 million deaths, most of which were civilians.

Humans weren’t the only ones involved either—many animals went to war as well. For example, horses, mules, and donkeys were used to carry ammunition, food, water, and medical supplies to those at the front.

Perhaps the most notable animal of all, however, is Wojtek. A Syrian brown bear, he helped fight against the Nazis as a soldier.

Where did he come from? What happened to him after the war? These are some of the things that we’ll be talking about in this post—so make sure to keep reading!

Where did Wojtek the Bear Come From?

Wojtek was born in 1942. He was found by a young boy after his mother was found shot by hunters.

Taken to a railroad station, he was eventually adopted by Polish II Corps soldiers. From there, he was brought to the 22nd Artillery Supply Company.

Not long afterward, he was named “Wojtek” aka “Happy Warrior.”

Wojtek the Soldier Bear 

Most if not all of the soldiers enjoyed Wojtek's company. In fact, he became a huge morale boost for the troops.

However, the soldiers were eventually reassigned to fight in the Italian campaign. While they wanted to take Wojtek with them, their transport ship forbade pet animals and mascots.

To get around this rule, Wojtek was enlisted into the Polish Army. A soldier of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company, he was cared for by Dymitr Szawlugo and Henryk Zacharewicz. It's said that he even drank beer!

Wojtek's Achievements During the War 

An enlisted soldier, he had his own serial number, rank—even a paybook! During the Battle of Monte Cassino, he helped his unit carry 45kg crates of artillery shells. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that he didn’t drop any of them!

His service would later earn him the rank of corporal. Not only that, but he was made the official mascot of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company. From there, he was added to the company's emblem as a bear carrying an artillery shell.

Wojtek After World War II

Following the end of the war, the bear was transported to Scotland, along with the rest of the 22nd Company. While he was there, he became a popular figure among local citizens.

Two years later, he was brought to the Edinburgh Zoo, where he would go on to spend the rest of his life. During that time, he was often visited by former soldiers and journalists.

Wojtek eventually died in 1963, at the age of 21.

Remembering Wojtek the Polish Soldier Bear

Since his death, many memorials have been constructed for Wojtek including a plaque in the Imperial War Museum. If anything, his legacy continues to live on!



Also in Polish And Proud Blog

Polski źródło Polish Cabbage Juice Soap
Polish Spring Cabbage Soap From Regent Park Naturals

If you love cabbage rolls or fresh cabbage, you owe it to yourself to check out the all-natural handmade bar soap from Regent Park Naturals. A cold process soap made from fresh cabbage paired with aloe vera and infused within an oatmeal rich makes this a unique Polish soap bar.
Pierogi Soap On A Rope - Polish Handmade Novelty Soap
Babcia's Polish Pierogi Soap On A Rope

We're always on the lookout for unique Polish gifts ideas, especially pierogi gifts and the cool pierogi shaped soap from Regent Park Naturals qualifies and then some! Read on to elarn more!
Polish Language Basics - Learn The Polish Language
Polish Language Secrets

The Polish language belongs to a group of Slavic languages. Those languages generally are very similar. But there is some difference. Want to know how old the Polish language is? Check out our Polish language article to learn more!