Corporal Wojtek (1942–1963) of the Polish Army, served during the Second World War at the Battle of Monte Cassino.
Originally having been born in Iran and only joining the Polish Army when they passed through Hamadan on their way to Tehran, on the 8th of April 1942.
After enlisting he was assigned to 3522, 22nd Artillery Supply Company, II Corps.
He was said to be a credit to his company, Wojtek helped by carrying ammunition, never dropping a single crate.
He was known for having a penchant for beer and cigarettes, even in his early career he was never far from a vodka bottle, he was also quite skilful at wrestling and always saluted regardless of rank.
After the war Wojtek and his company were posted to Berwickshire, Scotland, were he became an honorary member of the Polish-Scottish Association.
After de-mobilisation he retired to Edinbhburgh, having grown fond of Scotland. He was regularly visited by his old war buddies and shared cigarettes with them, Wojtek was also a frequent guest on children's shows.
Finally in 1963 old Wojtek passed away, he was a grand size when he passed at 35 stone (220 kg) and over 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall. He was sorely missed and was commemorated by statues and plaques throughout Europe.
There is even an achievement in Hearts of Iron IV, referencing him.
The more perceptive among you may have noticed that Wojtek was only 21 when he died.
That, despite fighting during the Second World War, he was born in 1942.
That strangely after a rather boring military career he was well remembered and celebrated.
Why is that?
Because Corporal Wojtek was a Bear.
A Syrian Brown Bear to be precise.
He was adopted by his company in Hamadan when he was found by a young boy having been abandoned after his mother was killed, he was fed condensed milk from an old vodka bottle when he was still young by 18 year old Irena Bokiewicz.
The reason for him having been enlisted was due to the fact that in order to get him onto a British transport ship he needed to be an enlisted soldier, so they enlisted him.
He really did serve in the Battle of Monte Cassino, kind of, were he helped in the transport of munitions.
For his actions the emblem of 22nd Artillery Supply Company was made to be a Bear carrying an artillery shell.
After the war he stayed with his company until de-mobilisation, after which he was donated to Edinburgh Zoo. Where he was visited by company members through the years, they would often throw him cigarettes (which he would eat, as know one could light them for him).
When he died he was immortalised as a symbol for Polish-Scottish relations and the Polish Artillery Corps.
That ladies and gentlemen is the story of Wojtek, the Soldier Bear.
Further Info: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wojtek_(bear)