Amid the training and turmoil of the early days of the First World War a certain bear cub came with her fellow Canadians to Salisbury Plain.

The orphaned cub became a famous little figure to the troops stationed here – but not half as famous as she has since become.

Winnie, almost certainly short for Winnipeg, was bought on a train journey from that city by a Canadian soldier, Harry Colebourn, shortly before he was sent to Wiltshire.

In his diary, Colebourn records how he purchased the bear cub from a hunter during a whistle-stop at the little town of White River in Ontario the day after he left Winnipeg in August 1914. “August 24. Bought (Winnie) Cub Bear at White River. Paid $20,” he wrote.

Colebourn and the cub briefly settled into army life at Valcartier, Quebec and the bear became a general favourite – to the point that Winnie was allowed to come to England too in the autumn of 1914.

She was not allowed to travel on to France though, and in December Winnie went instead to London Zoo for safe keeping – and she soon became a star attraction. Among the regular visitors was a young Christopher Robin Milne. A teddy given to him by his parents was called Winnie and the child and the toy became immortalised in the wonderful books by AA Milne.

Colebourn always said he would take Winnie home to Canada after the war, and he visited her at the zoo whenever he was on leave. But when he saw how special she had become to Londoners he decided to let her stay on.

Winnie died in 1934 aged 20, apparently a good age for a bear. A plaque at the zoo told how she was the inspiration for the Winnie-the-Pooh books.