by Luke Rajczuk
His name was Wojtek spelled ‘Voytek’ and he was a ‘soldier bear’ who was saved by the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish II Corps near Hamadan, Iran and traveled through Monte Casino in Italy all the way to Scotland to help win the war.
On the 7th of November, 2015 a two metre high bronze statue of the trooper bear and a Polish soldier will be unveiled in Princes Gardens. Weighing almost a tonne the monument is to commemorate Polish Scottish relations in efforts to defend Britain and bring World War II to an end. Lord Provost of Edinburgh Rt. Hon. Donald Wilson will officially unveil the statue at the nearby church on Staturday.
Founder of Wojtek Memorial Trust Raymond Muszynski thinks that: “Wojtek provided huge amount of diversion to the war and it was a symbol to his family who also fought in the conflict.”
This Syrian brown bear wasn’t just an ordinary one. He was able to load guns with munition, have an occasional cigarette or wrestle other soldiers in a playful manner. When the war ended he was separated from his Polish comrades who had to return to then Communist Poland never to see the war hero and reunite again. Wojtek spent his last days in Edinburgh Zoo.