Wojtek was a Syrian brown bear adopted and officially drafted into the Polish Army as a private and was listed among the soldiers of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish II Corps.
As one of the officially enlisted “soldiers” of the company, he lived with the other men in their tents or in a special wooden crate, which was transported by truck. According to numerous accounts, during the Battle of Monte Cassino, Wojtek helped his friends by transporting ammunition – never dropping a single crate.
Following the end of World War II in 1945, the bear was transported to Berwickshire in Scotland, along with parts of the II Corps. Stationed in the village of Hutton, near Duns, Wojtek soon became popular among local civilians and the press. The Polish-Scottish Association made Wojtek one of its honorary members. Following demobilization on November 15, 1947, Wojtek was given to the Edinburgh Zoo. There Wojtek spent the rest of his days, often visited by journalists and former Polish soldiers, some of whom would toss him cigarettes, which he then proceeded to smoke.
Wojtek died in December 1963, at the age of 22.
This painting is an alternative retirement for Wojtek.