Polish war hero who fought alongside Wojtek The Bear retires from Edinburgh leather worker job at 94

The 94-year-old World War II hero who fought alongside the famous Wojtek The Bear in the Battle of Monte Cassino is to close his leather goods shop in Edinburgh’s Old Town after announcing his retirement.

Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 3:48 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 5:45 pm

Ludwik Jaszczur and his wife Zofia Urbanska, who ran the Leatherwork on Lauriston Street in Edinburgh, left a sign in the building’s window on Sunday informing customers of the closure.

The couple ran the workshop for 50 years but highlighted in their notice it was ‘finally time to retire.’

Ludwik had considered retirement in 2019 but the couple decided to keep the shop open.

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Ludwik Jaszczur, the 94-year-old World War II hero who fought alongside the famous Wotjek The Bear in the Battle of Monte Cassino has retired from his job as a leather worker in Edinburgh’s Old Town.

The couple wrote in their recent notice outside the Edinburgh workshop: “After 50 years of service, it is finally time to retire.

“With great regret, we are closing the doors of our workshop and we would like to thank you with all hearts for being a loyal customer, a smile and a kind word.”

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Polish war veteran and friend of Wojtek the bear shares his incredible life stor...

A post shared by the Twitter account @MarchmontEtc stated: “This place has been here forever, run by an amazing old couple with a fascinating story. Definitely the end of an era on Lauriston Street.”

Polish war veteran Ludwik Jaszczur a solider of the Polish Corps under General Wladyslaw Anders fought at the battle of Monte Cassino alongside the famous “soldier bear” Wojtek. (Photo: Sandy Young).

Ludwik joined the second Polish Corps in 1943 after escaping Germany.

He lost his parents and brother to the Nazis in 1939 aged just 12.

As a teenager, he fought alongside legendary 440lb ‘soldier bear’ Wojtek, who carried arms for the Polish troops in 1944’s Battle of Monte Cassino.

Ludwik previously said: “I’ll tell you the truth. Wojtek helped us to win the Second World War.”

A statue immortalising a beer-drinking bear who saw action in World War Two in Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens. Wojtek - dubbed the "Soldier Bear" - was adopted by Polish troops and helped them carry ammunition at the Battle of Monte Cassino. After the war he lived in Scotland at Hutton in Berwickshire, before ending his days in Edinburgh Zoo.

Wojtek was known as a gentle bear that cuddled its friends and occasionally would drink beer and smoke cigarettes.

Like Ludwik, Wojtek ended up in Scotland after the war and Ludwik would regularly visit Edinburgh Zoo to see his comrade in arms.

When demobilised, Ludwik began working in the local hospitals making beds and feeding patients before being convinced to go to school to train as a nurse.

He then went on to be a surgical instrument maker for a private firm in Edinburgh. He then went on to fixing typewriters and office machinery at Remington for nearly half a century.

The Syrian brown bear passed away in 1963 at the age of 21.

A statue stands in Princes Street Gardens to remember the story of Wojtek and the Second Polish Corps.

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