This Polish soldier and his ursine colleague form a charming sculpture that stands in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens. Created by sculptor Alan Heriot, it was unveiled in November 2015.
The bear was rescued as a cub in the Middle East in 1943 after his mother was killed by hunters. He was later adopted by some Polish soldiers who cared for him and named him Wojtek. They incorporated him into army life by training him to carry heavy mortar rounds and when the forces were deployed to Europe the only way to take him with them was to “enlist” him. He was drafted into the Polish Army as a Private and was listed among the soldiers of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company.
At the end of the World War 2, the 22nd Company was transported to Berwickshire in Scotland and Wojtek, of course, accompanied them. When the Polish soldiers were demobilised he was taken to Edinburgh Zoo where he resided until his death in 1963.
Copyright Debbie Smyth, 27 September 2016
Part of Thursday Special: Companionable
And a thank you to Restless Jo for reminding me about Wojtek in her walk around Edinburgh