In 1942 a local boy found a bear cub near Hamadan, Persia (Iran). He sold it to the soldiers of the Polish Army stationed nearby for a couple of canned meat tins. He was officially drafted into the Polish Army and was listed among the soldiers of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish II Corps. Together with it he moved to Iraq and then through Syria, Palestine and Egypt to southern Italy.
The bear was fed with fruits, marmalade, honey and syrup, and was often rewarded with beer, which became his favourite drink. He also enjoyed eating cigarettes. 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 transported on lorries. According to numerous accounts, during the Battle of Monte Cassino Wojtek helped his patrons by transporting ammunition - and never dropped 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.
Following the demobilization, on November 15, 1947, Wojtek was given to the Edinburgh Zoo. There Wojtek spent the rest of his days, often visited by journalists and former Polish soldiers, some of whom would toss him cigarettes