Wojtek statue in Duns is a gift from Poland

The Polish soldiers made good use of Wojteks size and strength and he was happy to help
The Polish soldiers made good use of Wojteks size and strength and he was happy to help

Wojtek the soldier bear will have a permanent presence in Duns, after his statue is unveiled in the town centre this weekend.

The soldier bear arrived in Berwickshire in 1946 with his fellow Polish army comrades in the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish II Corps and became a local hero, whose fame has captured the imaginations of many in recent years.

The people of Zagan, the Polish town twinned with Duns, have gifted the statue to the people of Duns and the mayor of Zagan will carry out the unveiling on Sunday, April 24, at Golden Square, Duns at 3pm. He will also lay a wreath at the Polish war memorial.

Eight Polish delegates will travel to Duns for the occasion and another four from Imola in Italy who also hold Wojtek dear to their hearts for his contribution in the battle of Monte Casino where he carried shells up to the gun emplacements.

The six foot tall bear, weighing 500lbs, has been immortalised on badges and banners and buttons and in statues including the one in Duns. As a tiny cub Wojtek was given to a Polish soldier in exchange for food as hundreds and thousands of Poles, newly released from Siberia in 1941, travelled down to the Mediterranean through the mountains of Iraq/Iran.