During World War II a Polish transport company picked up an unusual mascot: a Syrian brown bear that grew to 500 pounds and traveled with his human friends through the Middle East and Europe. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll meet Wojtek, the “happy warrior,” and follow his adventures during and after the war.
We’ll also catch up with a Russian recluse and puzzle over a murderous daughter.
In 1956, U.S. Navy pilot Tom Attridge overtook his cannon rounds and shot down his own plane.
At Petersburg, Va., during the American Civil War, a Union and a Confederate bullet met in midair.
Sources for our feature on Wojtek the shell-toting bruin:
Aileen Orr, Wojtek the Bear, 2012.
Karen Jensen, “Private Wojtek, Reporting for Duty,” World War II 27:3 (September-October 2012), 54.
The Wojtek Memorial Trust raised £250,000 to build Wojtek’s memorial statue in Edinburgh.
“Scottish District News,” Glasgow Herald, Nov. 21, 1947.
“Smarter Than the Average Bear … by Far,” Edinburgh News, March 28, 2007.
David Sapsted, “Private Wojtek the ‘Hero Bear’ to be Honoured in Edinburgh,” Abu Dhabi National, Jan. 7, 2012.
David McCann, “Soldier Bear Wojtek to Be Given Statue in Edinburgh,” Berwickshire Advertiser, Dec. 28, 2012.
“Krakow Votes for WWII Soldier Bear Statue,” Radio Poland, April 26, 2013.
David McCann, “Prince Street Gardens Statue of Polish Army Bear,” Scotsman, May 29, 2013.
Alistair Grant, “Polish War Hero Bear Wojtek to Appear on Bus,” Edinburgh Evening News, Nov. 11, 2014.
Wojtek’s unit, the 22nd Artillery Support Company of the 2nd Polish Corps, adopted this design as its emblem. In Wojtek the Bear, Aileen Orr writes, “It was very much 22nd Company’s trademark; the bear logo even appeared on regimental equipment. Within weeks of its being created and approved, shortly after the Battle of Monte Cassino, the Wojtek military logo was everywhere. The bear had pretty much become a legend in his own not inconsiderable lunchtime as curious Allied soldiers from other regiments inquired about the badge’s significance.”
Some recent photos of Agafia Lykov can be seen on this Facebook page.
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Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.
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