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A Polish Hero: Wojtek the Bear

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A Polish Hero: Wojtek the Bear

A Polish soldier enjoys his time with his fellow soldier Wojtek.

A Polish soldier enjoys his time with his fellow soldier Wojtek.

Photo Courtesy of BBC

A Polish soldier enjoys his time with his fellow soldier Wojtek.

Photo Courtesy of BBC

Photo Courtesy of BBC

A Polish soldier enjoys his time with his fellow soldier Wojtek.

Michael Finnen, Staff Writer

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War is home to many strange things. World War II was no different, having many interesting historical stories surrounding it. However, one of the most interesting events of World War II took place in the Polish Army. What is this event, you may be asking? The Polish Army fought alongside a bear. You heard me right, a bear officially fought in the Polish Army. This bear’s name was Wojtek. Wojtek was purchased by Polish Soldiers as a cub in Iran and was given to the 22nd Artillery Company, who gave him his name.

As a soldier, Wojtek was fed rations by the soldiers and was given condensed milk to drink. However, the soldiers soon began to reward Wojtek with beer, which became his favorite drink, and he often drank with the Polish Soldiers. Wojtek also smoked cigarettes, he just needed a soldier to light it for him. Soldiers wrestled and boxed with Wojtek, and became very attached to the bear.

Wojtek was so much more than just a pet to the Polish Army, he was a full-fledged fighter who supported the army in battle. He traveled with the soldiers into Egypt to fight the Italians. In order to put him on the ship, the Polish Army had to officially enlist Wojtek as a soldier. This means that he had his own serial number and even a pay book. Wojtek was enlisted as a private. However, as the army moved into Italy, the Battle of Monte Cassino took place. This was a part of the British Campaign against Italy and sought to capture Rome. During the battle, Wojtek bravely carried 100-pound artillery shells to resupply his Polish Allies. This bear fought more bravely than some human soldiers did. Wojtek was promoted to corporal and survived all of World War II. He was placed in a zoo until his death and was often visited by his former comrades. A statue of Wojtek was built in Krakow, Poland, and still exists there today. Wojtek is a shining example of true bravery, and a, albeit somewhat comical, example of the true unpredictability and interesting nature of history.

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Michael Finnen, Staff Writer

Hey there, my name is Michael Finnen. Created in a laboratory several years ago, I am a part of the class of 2020. I am a very big history buff, I play...

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