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Honour sought for Soldier Bear

#1
Honour sought for 'Soldier Bear'



A campaign has been launched to build a permanent memorial to a bear which spent much of its life in Scotland - after fighting in World War II.

The bear - named Voytek - was adopted in the Middle East by Polish troops in 1943, becoming much more than a mascot.

The large animal even helped their armed forces to carry ammunition at the Battle of Monte Cassino.

Voytek - known as the Soldier Bear - later lived near Hutton in the Borders and ended his days at Edinburgh Zoo.

He was found wandering in the hills of Iran by Polish soldiers in 1943.



They adopted him and as he grew he was trained to carry heavy mortar rounds.

When Polish 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.

He saw action at Monte Cassino before being billeted - along with about 3,000 other Polish troops - at the army camp in the Scottish Borders.

The soldiers who were stationed with him say that he was easy to get along with.



"He was just like a dog - nobody was scared of him," said Polish veteran Augustyn Karolewski, who still lives near the site of the camp.


"He liked a cigarette, he liked a bottle of beer - he drank a bottle of beer like any man."
When the troops were demobilised, Voytek spent his last days at Edinburgh Zoo.

Mr Karolewski went back to see him on a couple of occasions and found he still responded to the Polish language.

"I went to Edinburgh Zoo once or twice when Voytek was there," he said.

"And as soon as I mentioned his name he would sit on his backside and shake his head wanting a cigarette.

"It wasn't easy to throw a cigarette to him - all the attempts I made until he eventually got one."

Voytek was a major attraction at the zoo until his death in 1963.

Eyemouth High School teacher Garry Paulin is now writing a new book, telling the bear's remarkable story.

'Totally amazing'

Local campaigner Aileen Orr would like to see a memorial created at Holyrood to the bear she says was part of both the community and the area's history.

She first heard about Voytek as a child from her grandfather, who served with the King's Own Scottish Borderers.

"I thought he had made it up to be quite honest but it was only when I got married and came here that I knew in fact he was here, Voytek was here," she said.

"When I heard from the community that so few people knew about him I began to actually research the facts.

"It is just amazing, the story is totally amazing."



news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/south_of_scotland/7208505.stm
 
#2
A touching story - but the first picture clearly shows Bungle from Rainbow, who - as far as I could tell from his accent - was neither Iranian nor Scottish.
 
#3
Perhaps he will have the honour of being worn on a guardsmans head one day?? ;)
 
#4
Mr_Deputy said:
"Voytek was a major attraction at the zoo until his death in 1963"

he's gonna need a good brush.
Damn, I didn't read that bit.
 

Sixty

ADC
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#5
There's a precedent at Edinburgh Zoo of course: Nils Olav, the King Penguin promoted from RSM to Colonel in Chief of the Norwegian Guards (LE Commission, obviously).

Over-promoted penguin.

He is the first penguin to hold this rank in the Norwegian army.
Perhaps a posthumous promotion is in order for the bear?
 
#6
Dilfor said:
A touching story - but the first picture clearly shows Bungle from Rainbow, who - as far as I could tell from his accent - was neither Iranian nor Scottish.
Well spotted madam. Bungle is in fact, the double 'ard offspring off Herr Voytek "Nails" D'Bear.

I'll bet the sloppos never tried the old "One sausage only you cahnt!" with him.
 
#8
better than a fcuking lab any day
 
#10
This can only be explained by a Polish fondness for Wodka.

People too easily forget that the Poles fought like hell for the Allies only to get stuffed *********** at Yalta.
 
#11
Cairngorm said:
Take care of the lads coming home now, not a poxy old bear.
:roll: He's been dead for 45 years Trigger, much like your brain apparently.
 
#12
Like to see all you's disparaging slags take on THAT big fcuk at the NAAFI bop!!!


Go on there son, get in there....!!!

<ROOOOAR!!! Splice!!!!>

Ooops ;)

Give the bear his due.

[edited while dodging a pissed bear ]
 
#13
In-Limbo said:
Like to see all you's disparaging slags take on THAT big fcuk at the NAFFI bop!!!


Go on there son, get in there....!!!

<ROOOOAR!!! Splice!!!!>

Ooops ;)

Give the bear his due.
Would do if I knew where the Naffi was!!
 
#14
GT2001 said:
In-Limbo said:
Like to see all you's disparaging slags take on THAT big fcuk at the NAFFI bop!!!


Go on there son, get in there....!!!

<ROOOOAR!!! Splice!!!!>

Ooops ;)

Give the bear his due.
Would do if I knew where the Naffi was!!
NAFFI
RAF Station
Aldergrove
CRUMLIN
BT29 4BN

http://www.4ni.co.uk/73814x498x27_naffi-crumlin-antrim.htm

You'll notice the bear as you walk in, he's the 8ft guy, covered top to toe in fur, dancing center stage, fag hanging out his mouth, covered in beer cause he can't hold his pint pot, getting all lush with the NAAFI bar staff. ;)
 
#15
He obviously has a thing for fat greasy mingers then, poor cnut!

Still better than being a Crab, who can't abbreviate Navy, Army & Air Force Institue!
 
#17
Don't give Gordon Brown any ideas. He may see bears as another defence cut option. Or would this be just another hair bear scheme?
 
#18
sandmanfez said:
Dilfor said:
A touching story - but the first picture clearly shows Bungle from Rainbow, who - as far as I could tell from his accent - was neither Iranian nor Scottish.
Well spotted madam. Bungle is in fact, the double 'ard offspring off Herr Voytek "Nails" D'Bear.

I'll bet the sloppos never tried the old "One sausage only you cahnt!" with him.
I agree with Dilfor, quite a touching story.

As for 'Bungle' he's now owned by Fremantle Media. I know that as I have to sit in a boardroom within their demise with a big feck off photo of 'Bungle' and others on the surrounding walls. In the flat where I once lived was an actor, gayer than a roomfull of pink umbrellas, whose livelhood was to climb inside this bear suit and make a living. Kharma or what?
 
#19
Alec_Lomas said:
In the flat where I once lived was an actor, gayer than a roomfull of pink umbrellas, whose livelhood was to climb inside this bear suit and make a living. Kharma or what?
Was that during your "experimental & curious" phase Bob? :wink:
 

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