Many can’t believe this story… I was not just hand the bear, which gave us precious minutes of joy to their fellow soldiers and entertained them during the Second world war, but he also proved himself a true warrior.
In 1942, the Army of Wladyslaw Anders formed from the deported in 1939 to the Union of poles, headed to the middle East. In Iran in the spring of 1942 their way met a boy whose bag they saw a barely alive little bear. It turned out that the hunters killed his mother. 22 soldiers of a company, feeding a hungry boy, persuaded him to sell them that bear. Named rookie Wojtek.
It turned out that the bear is not even able to eat, chew and swallow food. To feed him I had the bottle of diluted condensed milk, making this an impromptu pacifier. Especially attached to a Teddy bear and long tinkered with him Peter Prentis. To keep warm, I often lay down to sleep on his chest.
Quietly growing up, along with the soldiers of the Anders Army Wojtek visited Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Egypt.
Bear, who grew up among people who were very obedient and loving, did not show any aggression towards the soldiers. And the soldiers, having fun with a cub, proved to be excellent trainers.
Wojtek was taught to stand on guard duty to honor. But especially he loved to fight with the soldiers, and for them it was perfectly safe – bear clearly know the limit when to stop, not to cause them any harm.
“He loved fights with other soldiers and even fought with four opponents simultaneously. Hid the claws and have fun riding with them on the floor, shook them and pretended like he was going to bite. But he never, not once, no one was hurt,” recalled Archibald brown, the courier of General Montgomery.
Accustomed to military discipline, sometimes I still showed your character. So, an adult bear at night the soldiers tied a rope to a peg, so he did not wander around the camp. Wojtek, and even put up with this procedure, but Harris still tried to pick them myself. So he calmly pulled out the peg, switched to another place for himself chosen, stuck a peg in the ground and went to bed. Discipline in the first place ))).
Wojtek proved to be extremely observant and tried to imitate people copying what I saw. Everyone noted his tenacious mind and human habits. So, he learned to drink beer, and he drank it, like other soldiers out of the bottle, holding it in one paw. Like Wojtek and cigarettes, but he, of course, did not smoke, but chewed and ate. Very funny look when he treated cigarette, he did a thankful nod of the head. After all, no one was taught to do that himself spied and copied…
Army veteran recalled: “I loved doing that and the soldiers around him. They smoked, and he smoked, they drank, and he drank. An order was given “eyes right!” and he turned his head. He was just a soldier.”
All the soldiers loved Wojtek, and he does try for them, knowing how to cheer them up.
But as it turned out, his finest hour is yet to come…
The battle of Monte Cassino
Anders ‘ army, moving in obedience to the British, was ordered to sail from Egypt to a British military transport ship to Italy. Although transporting animals on that ship was forbidden, I guess no problems there – after all, he was officially assigned to the 22nd supply company of artillery of the II corps of the Polish army.
In Italy, the Anders Army was sent to storm the German fortifications at Monte Cassino, fought to change there before the British division, which suffered very heavy losses. The task was incredibly complex – the Germans entrenched in a fortress at the top of the mountain, from there coming were shot by snipers. To launch an attack without prior powerful artillery fire was pointless. Been doing the Polish artillery, ammunition was needed very much.
22 company was busy unloading ammunition and delivered them to the guns that are on the mountain, the soldiers toiled without rest. Wojtek first watched them, and then happened something absolutely incredible. The bear approached the truck, stood on his hind legs, while the front is stretched forward. Levies doubt the dealer would put on his paws a box of ammunition, and Wojtek took them down the hill to the guns.
After that, he returned to the truck and following the boxes began to take already own and carry without dropping any shell.
On this day, Polish soldiers completed the task and got the right height. Wojtek took delivery of ammunition and food for a few days without fear neither fire nor the roar of guns. Witnesses of this miracle were hundreds of people, many of whom initially did not believe the stories of eyewitnesses.
After this battle, the 22nd the company had changed its logo – now it was the silhouette of a bear with the shell in his paws.
After serving five years in the Polish army, the valiant bear was awarded the rank of corporal.
After the war
At the end of the war, the soldiers of the units of the Anders Army for political reasons could not return home, at first they were sent to Britain, and soon all was disbanded. In November 1947 the former soldiers who have gone far and Wojtek decided to leave at Edinburgh zoo in Scotland.
But he became the General favorite, Wojtek still very upset by separation and greatly missed. The veterans who remained to live in the UK, do not forget about Wojtek and constantly came to see him. They without any fear got to him in jail, resulting in the horror of the zoo staff. Usually sad bear, hearing the Polish language, literally transformed again and became very cheerful. Veterans while barely holding back tears. And Wojtek lived out his life in the zoo and he lived there until 22 years of age.
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