Voytek, World War II Soldier Bear

Campaigners in Great Britain are hoping to build a permanent memorial to Voytek, the "soldier bear" who aided Allied troops in World War II. The 250-pounder was befriended by Polish troops as a cub and was later trained to carry munitions during a battle at the front line in Italy in 1944:

He helped the supply side by cradling 25lb shells or boxes of ammunition in his arms and passing them down the line.

Off-duty, he loved nothing more than a bottle of beer, a cigarette and to wrestle with the men - in between raids on the cookhouse.

By the end of the war, Voytek had become a symbol of ursine courage, but his country was under Soviet domination, so he travelled with other Polish troops to Scotland and the Berwickshire village of Hutton.

Soldiers who were stationed with him say that he was easy to get along with.

Polish veteran Augustyn Karolewski, 82, who still lives near the site of the camp in Berwickshire, said: 'He was like a big dog, no-one was scared of him.

"He liked a cigarette, he liked a bottle of beer - he drank a bottle of beer like any man."


Jeff said...

That's seriously one of the coolest stories I've ever read.

Anonymous said...

Or incredibly sad, depending on how you look at Man's follies...