In 1942, a Polish militia unit called the Anders Army was deployed to the Middle East to join the Allies. Their first stop was Iran. And that’s where their unit’s lieutenant made a decision that would create one of the greatest legends of WWII.
On their way to Iran’s capital city of Tehran, the Polish soldiers met a young boy carrying a very unusual item in his sack: a Syrian brown bear cub! The boy explained that he’d found the cub after its mother was killed by hunters. A beautiful Polish woman who was traveling with the soldiers, Irena Bokiewicz, instantly fell in love with the cub. So Lieutenant Anatol Tarnowiecki bought the little cub for her on the spot!
The cub spent the next three months in the Polish civilian camp near Tehran under the care of Irena. Then, unable to care for the growing cub, Irena gave it to the Polish Army’s 22nd Artillery Supply Company.