That Time Poland Took A Bear Along For World War Two

first published on June 19, 2017 by

The Polish II Corps used a soldier bear named Wojtek to help them carry artillery ammunition during the Second World War.

World War 2, as all wars are, was a time of great innovation for all of the World’s military powers. From using pigeons to guide missiles, to having a company bear that carries artillery ammunition, it seems as if the entire animal kingdom was also drawn into the conflict at some point.

Wojtek was a Syrian Brown Bear purchased at a train station as the Polish II Corps evacuated from the Soviet Union in order to participate in other campaigns. The bear served the 22nd Artillery Supply Company as a pack animal during the Battle of Monte Cassino, in Italy in 1944. There he attained celebrity status among the soldiers and command elements for never dropping a single crate of artillery ammunition, even while under constant enemy fire.

In order to get the bear onto the transport ship, the bear was enlisted into the Polish military as the rank of private. He was issued his own pay book, rank, and serial number. He lived with the men on the ships, and even in the same tents as them.

The bear was known for his love of drinking beer, smoking cigarettes, and wrestling with his human companions. His name, Wojtek, comes from an old Slavic word that means “one who enjoys war,” or “the happy warrior.”

Here is a brief videos with pictures of Wojtek during World War Two.


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