Wojtek the Bear
Meet the Bear
Upper Years pupils were treated to a fantastic talk on historical figure Wojtek the Bear. Mr Gallimore who teaches History at Taunton School, explained how Wojtek became the unofficial mascot of the Polish II Corps and saw action in the Italian before retiring at Edinburgh Zoo.
Mr Gallimore began his presentation by discussing the origins of the ‘teddy bear’ and its connection with American President, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. However, Mr Gallimore believed that we should call the ‘teddy bear’ a ‘Wojtek bear’ instead – after the bear’s incredible story.
Pupils heard how Wojtek had been purchased by Polish soldiers when he was a young cub and quickly became a member of the Polish II Corps. As an army bear, Wojtek carried ammunition and shells during combat and developed a keen taste for beer.
In his time, Wojtek saw plenty of action in the Syria, Palestine and Italy. He was incredibly instrumental in supporting the allies at the Battle of Monte Cassino, where he carried boxes of artillery shells, despite being shot several times.
After the war, Wojtek, alongside many of his polish friends, were granted residency in Scotland. Wojtek went to live in Edinburgh Zoo, where he was a popular figure until his death in 1963. Mr Gallimore concluded that Wojtek had shown enormous courage and should be remembered for his grit and resilience during WWII.