South Scotland

Statue of Polish 'Soldier Bear' to be unveiled in Duns

Wojtek and soldier. Photo courtesy of The Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum Image copyright Other
Image caption Wojtek was enlisted as a soldier and received double rations

A life-sized statue of a bear which saw action in World War Two is to be installed in the Borders town of Duns.

Wojtek - nicknamed the "Soldier Bear" - was adopted by Polish troops and helped them carry ammunition.

After the war, he lived in Hutton in Berwickshire before ending his days at Edinburgh Zoo.

The new statue has been gifted to the people of Duns by its twin town of Zagan in Poland. It will be unveiled on 24 April in the town's market square.

Wojtek was adopted by Polish soldiers after he was rescued as a cub in the Middle East in 1943.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Wojtek was said to have a gentle nature despite his size

As well as carrying heavy mortar rounds at the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy, he learned to drink beer.

At the end of the war he was billeted at an army camp in Hutton, 10 miles from Duns.

Wojtek's story was the subject of a documentary in 2011.

The new statue will be unveiled by the Mayor of Zagan following a blessing from a Polish priest.

A statement from Duns Community Council and Duns Twinning Committee said a party from Poland would also be present along with a party from Italy, where the same statue has been erected in Imola, near Bologna.

A similar monument to the animal was unveiled in Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens in November last year.

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