Wojtek was a brown bear born in 1942 near Hamadan, Iran, and adopted by the 22nd Artillery Company of the 2nd Polish Corps. Fed on milk in a vodka bottle with a napkin as a teat, Wojtek learned to drink the beer that the soldiers offered him to make up for it, as well as the cigarettes he ate. Wojtek shared the daily life of the Polish soldiers to such an extent that he became an integral part of them. He had his own tent, took part in the campfire in the evenings, and played games with the soldiers. However, the English army, from which these soldiers came, forbade pets within their ranks. So, to get around the ban, the Polish soldiers arranged for Wojtek to become an official soldier, with his own registration number and rank. As a child, he was accustomed to traveling in the passenger seat of a car, but later had to be helped to settle in, as he refused to travel in any other way. It's easy to imagine the puzzled civilians watching the liberation convoys go by... From January to May 1944, during the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy, a battle in which the Allied troops deployed in Italy succeeded in breaking through the Gustav Line, Woerner and his men were forced to take to the field; break through the Gustav Line, Wojtek helped his comrades-in-arms by carrying boxes of ammunition (so heavy that they were usually carried by two or three men) between the supply trucks and the front lines! As a tribute, the regiment changed its insignia to a bear carrying a shell. After the war, Wojtek spent the rest of his life at the Édimbourg zoo, where he died in 1963.
Wojtek the Soldier Bear Memorial