03 January 2013
A statue commemorating the life of Wojtek, the Polish 'soldier' bear who fought alongside troops in World War Two, could be sited in Edinburgh in 2013....
A statue commemorating the life of Wojtek, the Polish 'soldier' bear who fought alongside troops in World War Two, could be sited in Edinburgh in 2013. The Wojtek Memorial Trust Fund has raised £200,000 for two bronze statues, one of which will be sent to Poland and the other, the Trust hopes to erect in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh. Sculptor Alan Heriot has been commissioned to create a larger than life-size bronze cast.
Wojtek became famous during World War Two for helping Polish troops to carry ammunition at the Battle of Monte Cassino. The six-foot-tall bear was given his own troop number during the war and was trained to carry heavy goods into battle. After the war, he was adopted by soldiers in the Scottish Borders, before spending the days before his death in 1963 at Edinburgh Zoo.
The Memorial Trust hope that the statue will be in place in Edinburgh in time for the fiftieth anniversary of Wojtek's death in 2013. Aileen Orr, author of a book on Wojtek's life, told BBC Scotland: 'Wojtek ended up at Sunwick Farm in Berwickshire where I live, but before I was born. My grandfather, Jim Little, had him and he would play on the grass in the garden. My grandfather met him in Palestine with the allies. This is one of the classic stories of World War II. You don't have to embellish it because the story itself is incredibly exciting and sad.'
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