Discussion in 'Current Affairs' started by Backpacker1uk, Mar 29, 2009.

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  1. A bears tale

    Scots Honour WWII Veteran Polish Bear

    A reception has been held in the Scottish Parliament in honour of a bear which saw action in World War II. Wojtek - dubbed the "Soldier Bear" - was adopted by Polish troops and helped them carry ammunition at the Battle of Monte Cassino. After the war he lived in Scotland at Hutton in Berwickshire, before ending his days in Edinburgh Zoo. Members of the Polish community, Hutton residents and ex-servicemen were expected to attend the event.

    Wojtek - also known as Voytek - was rescued as a cub in the Middle East in 1943. The Polish soldiers adopted him and as he grew he was trained to carry heavy mortar rounds. When their forces were deployed to Europe the only way to take the bear with them was to "enlist" him. So he was given a name, rank and number and took part in the Italian campaign. At the end of the war the bear - who had also learned how to smoke and drink beer - was billeted at an army camp in the Scottish Borders. When the Polish soldiers were demobilised he was taken to Edinburgh Zoo where he eventually died in 1963.

    Efforts are now being made by the Wojtek Memorial Trust to build a permanent tribute to the bear. Founder Aileen Orr said: "The story of Wojtek has only recently been raised again throughout Poland and Scotland. The fact that a large bear could be trusted with humans to the extent he played with children and enjoyed a bottle of beer made him unique. It is understood no bear can be tamed, but he was the exception."
  2. A typical soldier then who liked his fags and ale, nice story. :)
  3. It is not April 1st till Wednesday :lol:
  4. Ooops! Sorry wrong date, I thought it was 1st April. I'll post again on Wednesday :lol:

    I am guessing that I am probably the only person on RR who read this thread and then went on to look-up and read about Wotjek. :?

    Now writing out 100 times "I must get a life" :lol:

  5. It's a pity we didn't look after the Polish servicemen as well as we did the bear.
    In fear of offending Stalin, the Polish Airmen who had fought since the begining, most notably in the Battle Of Britain and other Troops weren't allowed to march in the London Victory parade.
    All the promises of Polish independance made by Churchill and others were conveniently forgotten at Yalta in the name of keeping the Ruskis onside.
    Those who weren't fortunate enough to be able to stay in the UK, by having married British women, were forced to return to their homeland where they were treated at best as suspect and at worst as Enemies of the State and treated to an all expenses paid trip to the Gulags.
  6. Think you'll find that they were given a choice of staying in the UK or returning to Poland . The ones that did return most were as you mention
    ill treated and not honoured in any way. Some did get employed in the
    Russian controlled Polish forces .

    Lot of them stayed -mainly in Scotland .
    In 1940 the Polish Army was given the task of defending the Scottish
    North sea coast line in the event of an invasion.

  7. I concur with Greenie. One of my former colleagues at work was married to a WW2 Polish officer who stayed in Britain after the war and later married her. It still didn't make it any easier for us to correctly pronounce her surname! There was a recent documentary series by the BBC that explored our relationship with Stalin during the war which points out that many Polish heroes chose to return to Poland because of the hostile attitudes of some British men.

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