You”ve heard of war horses and even war elephants, but war bears? Yeah right! Who could possibly train such a huge, ferocious beast to participate in battle?
As it turns out, such a bear existed during World War II. Not only did a bear fight for Poland in certain battles, he even received a rank. After all, with the world in crisis, nations everywhere had to look to unconventional methods when fighting the enemy and there”s nothing more unconventional than a bear soldier.
Wojtek, which means “smiling warrior,” was born in 1942 and found in Iran after his mother was killed. The bear soon became too big for his owner to take care of, and was then given to the Polish Army.
Soldiers took a liking to Wojtek, and Wojtek took a liking to their cigarettes and beer.
He would also wrestle with the soldiers. Not shockingly, he pretty much always won.
Due to a technicality, Wojtek had to be drafted into the Polish Army when they joined the British Army. This is when he achieved the rank of Private.
Wojtek actually lived among soldiers during various campaigns. He even rose in rank to Corporal. During the Battle of Monte Cassino, he helped transport ammo for the troops.
Because of Wojtek”s popularity with the Polish Army, his likeness became the official emblem of the army”s 22nd Transport Company.
After the war, Wojtek relocated to Scotland, where he eventually lived out the rest of his life at the Edinburgh Zoo.
Wojtek served as an inspiration to the Polish Army and boosted morale during a time when morale was incredibly low. Though he didn”t directly fight in the war, he still played an integral part and helped people when they needed him most. His contributions to history will not be forgotten.