This entire article was written by Danny Kringiel for Spiegel Online International Edition. I just love this story...
The tale is bizarre, but true. During World War II, an orphaned brown bear went from being a cuddly pet to an officially enlisted soldier in the Polish army, and reportedly saw fierce combat in Italy. Decades after the war and his death, "Wojtek" continues to be honored.
Archibald Brown had already seen a lot during the war -- but nothing like this. It was mid-February 1944, and the courier for British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery was in the port of Naples to help process a unit of Polish soldiers that had just arrived by ship from Alexandria, Egypt, to advance with British soldiers against German and Italian forces. Among his everyday duties was checking crew manifests and speaking with freshly arrived soldiers. But this would be no typical day.
Brown had already spoken with every single member of the new unit, the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish II Corps -- except one."We looked at the roster, and there was only one person, Corporal Wojtek, who had not appeared," Brown recalled in an interview years later. But the documents said that Wojtek belonged to the unit. Brown had his service number and his pay book, but the soldier himself seemed to have vanished without a trace.