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REMEMBERING THE LOCAL WAR HEROES FROM YOUR VILLAGES, TOWNS AND CITIES: THE REAL WINNIE THE POOH ON SALISBURY PLAIN

The unofficial pet of the Second Canadian Infantry Brigade's HQ, Winnie the Black bear cub rescued by Lieutenant Harry Coleman

On the 24th of August 1914 a Canadian soldier, Lieutenant Harry Colebourn, rescued a female black bear cub. He named her Winnie and kept her by his side during the trip across the Atlantic, ending up in Salisbury, where she became an unofficial pet to the HQ unit of the Second Canadian Infantry Brigade. Winnie was very tame, and would follow soldiers around the camp. She was great at boosting morale. When Lieutenant Colebourn was moved to France, Winnie was sent to London Zoo. She was described as one of the tamest and best behaved bears at the zoo, and one who could always be trusted.

Winnie was a popular attraction, and two of her frequent visitors were a certain AA Milne and his young son, Christopher Robin. In 1926, Milne published the first of his Pooh stories, “Winnie-the-Pooh”, inspired by his son’s love of the bear. Winnie died at London Zoo in 1934, aged 20 years.

 

 

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