PENICUIK COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT TRUST
THE POLISH SOLDIER BEAR
A SATURDAY OPEN HOUSE EXHIBITION
20 July &
Following the Trust’s series of exhibitions 2008-2013
The Great Polish Map of
Campaign to restore
GREAT POLISH MAP OF
At Eddleston near Penicuik -see www.makers.org.uk/mapascotland
Welcome to the Wojtek Memorial Trust
Our mission is to celebrate the life of Wojtek and those who were with him.
As Wojtek spent most of his life in Scotland and died here, the Trust is working on strengthening links with Poland to tell the story of how the Scottish people have not forgotten, and instead of looking back, we feel Wojtek’s spirit can still live on through a memorial in Edinburgh with a copy in Warsaw to link the two cities, but also highlighting the story to a new generation of Poles and Scots.
We have received messages from all over the world now reaching a staggering 100,000 pieces of communication. We wish to thank all those who have contacted us and we hope, through our website www.wojtekthebear.org.uk to keep the world up to date with our project.
Memorial Trust. A Company limited by guarantee, registered in
Alan Beattie Herriot DA ARBS
Over the past 36
years he has built an international reputation and is considered one of
He works from his Howgate studio in
Endeavour Art Studios near Howgate,
Sculpture in hot bronze and cold cast bronze, life-size, scale models and figurines.
Alan Herriot's sculptures portray characters from history, literature and legend. His sculptural pedigree can be traced back from Rodin, Eduard Lanteri and Alexander Carrick, Scott Sutherland to contemporaries such as Alistair Smart and Dr. Alistair Ross and David Annand.
He has produced work for the
major Heritage Conservation bodies, The National Trust for
His Ancient Mariner and Yankee
Jack sculptures are sited at the
Wojtek (1942–1963) was a Syrian
brown bear cub found in Iran and adopted by
soldiers of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish II
Corps. During the Battle of Monte Cassino, Wojtek helped move ammunition.
The name "Wojtek" is a diminutive form of "Wojciech", an old Slavic
name that is still common in
As the bear was less than a year old, he initially had problems swallowing and was fed with condensed milk from an emptied vodka bottle. Later, the bear was fed with fruits, marmalade, honey and syrup, and was often rewarded with beer, which became his favourite drink. He also enjoyed smoking and eating cigarettes. He enjoyed wrestling and was taught to salute when greeted.
The bear became quite an attraction for soldiers and civilians alike, and soon became an unofficial mascot of all units stationed nearby. With the company he moved to Iraq and then through Syria, Palestine and Egypt.
To get him on a British transport
ship when the unit sailed from
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. In recognition of the bear's popularity, the HQ approved an effigy of a bear holding an artillery shell as the official emblem of the 22nd Company (by then renamed to 22nd Transport Company).
THE POLES HAD JUST BEEN SUPPLIED WITH UNIFORMS BY THE AUSTRALIANS
Polish soldier with Wojtek in Iran 1942.
British Government deployed
Stalin’s captured Polish
soldiers and their families (minus the officers clandestinely executed in the Katyn massacre) emerged from
Stalin had agreed to
release them so that the Allies could use them to help attack the Axis forces
Wojtek with a Polish soldier
WOJTEK IN BERWICKSHIRE 1946
WOJTEK WITH HIS EMBLEM IN
WOJTEK CARRYING AN ARTILLERY SHELL.
Sign to commemorate his role at the Battle of Montecassino painted on 22nd Artillery Supply Company vehicles
Wojtek remained in
Wojtek died in December 1963, at the age of 22. At the time of his death he weighed nearly 500 pounds (230 kg) and had a length of over 6 feet (1.8 metres).
attention contributed to Wojtek's popularity. He was
a frequent guest of
Wojtek Memorial Trust proposes to erect a memorial
next year at the western end of Edinburgh’s
A campaign has been
launched to build a permanent memorial to a bear which spent much of its life
The bear - named Voytek - was adopted
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
When Polish forces were deployed to
The bear travelled with
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.
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."
© IWM (Art.IWM PST 15722)
Click above for a few of over 100 Penicuik Open House weekly displays
Penicuik Trust’s weekly CINEMA programme
NUMBER 100 of the 10
most visited KOSMOID& MAKERSwebpages
ALEXANDER COWAN’S INSTITUTE
illustrated by his great-great-great grandson Robin Macfarlan
The Cowan Institute -with library, halls and recreation rooms- was given to the people of Penicuik by the will of Alexander Cowan, papermaker. Operated for most of its life by the Cowan Trust, it was passed in 1960 to local management under the care of the Burgh of Penicuik.
On local government reorganisation in the mid 1970s the Burgh’s assets became vested in Midlothian Council, including the Cowan Institute and the endowments for social facilities the earlier Trust had provided.
Penicuik Community Development
Trust was formed by public concern for the fate of the building after
reports of its possible sale in 2005. The Trust is a registered charity (SC037990) run and entirely supported
by the efforts of Penicuik people, and hires space in the Institute to operate
an Open House with displays every Saturday throughout the year, and a weekly
Cinema on Sunday evenings. In
other parts of the town It also runs the Lost Garden of Penicuik Project and the
Press community business and shop.
In addition, it works closely with the locally-run charitable bodies
operating Penicuik’s Leisure Centre at Ladywood and the Penicuik Community Arts
NUMBER 100+ of the 200