GRADE LEVEL

6-8, 9-12

SUBJECT(S)

Language Arts, Social Studies

Cemetery/Memorial

Rhone American Cemetery

Fallen Hero

Bernard Fox

“ The campaign in the Mediterranean is the most overlooked and underappreciated aspect of the war. The 45th Infantry Division was engaged in combat more than any other infantry division in the war, but their accomplishments are often overlooked because of where they fought. ”
-Amanda Kordeliski

Overview

Using interactive technology from the American Battle Monuments Commission, primary source newspapers, cartoons, and sketches from the 45th Infantry Division, and secondary accounts of the campaign from historians and archivists, students will follow the path of the 45th Infantry Division from Sicily to Munich. Students will examine key battles in which the 45th Infantry Division fought, and discuss how this experience impacted the soldiers.

Activity Download Activity

Historical Context

The invasion of Sicily was the first foothold into mainland Europe for the Allies. The four amphibious invasions the 45th Infantry Division participated in provided vital information for Allied command. The bitter fighting in Italy kept the battle-hardened Germans engaged and prevented them from shifting troops north when the Allies invaded Normandy. Though often overlooked or dismissed in favor of battles in Northern Europe or the Pacific, the campaigns in the Mediterranean allowed the Allies to push the Germans out of Italy and southern France and link up with troops from northern Europe to advance into Germany. The liberation of the Dachau Concentration Camp provided Allied command the opportunity to invite reporters into Germany to document the Nazi atrocities.

Objectives

At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to

  • Describe the role the 45th Infantry Division played in the Mediterranean Theatre;
  • Analyze and compare primary and secondary sources from World War II to understand the role of the 45th Infantry Division and the importance of the Mediterranean campaign;
  • Understand the importance of the Mediterranean theatre and how it contributed to the outcome of the war; and
  • Understand the importance of the liberation of Dachau and how it shaped the purpose of the war for the men in the 45th Infantry Division.
Standards Connections

Connections to Common Core
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.1 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.6 Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author's point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8 Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

Connections to C3 Framework
D2.His.1.6-8. Analyze connections among events and developments in broader historical contexts.
D2.His.3.6-8. Use questions generated about individuals and groups to analyze why they, and the developments they shaped, are seen as historically significant.
D2.His.11.9-12. Critique the usefulness of historical sources for a specific historical inquiry based on their maker, date, place of origin, intended audience, and purpose.
D3.2.9-12. Evaluate the credibility of a source by examining how experts value the source.

Materials
Lesson Preparation
  • Set up classroom technology and test all online resources before class.
  • Divide the class into groups of two to four students each.
  • Print and divide the Soldier Dossier Cards so that there is one for every student in the class.
  • Print or make available electronically one copy of the primary source documents for each student.
Procedure

Activity One: Sicily (30-45 minutes)

  • Project ABMC resource The Sicilian Campaign Interactive on the board and play the prelude video for the class.
  • Explore The Sicilian Campaign together as a class or divide into small groups to explore the timeline with a group or individual device.
    • Teacher Tip: If students click on the “45” within the legend on the battle map, they can focus on only the maneuvers of the 45th Infantry Division for each time period in the campaign.
    • Teacher Tip: If students explore the timeline individually or in small groups, headphones are recommended for the short videos that accompany each time slot.
  • Distribute (or share digitally) the 45th Division News, from August 17, 1943, and Bill Mauldin’s cartoon, Bath in 15 Minutes.
    • Ask the students to read the article “Germans Leaving Island of Sicily" from August 17, 1943, in the 45th Division News and explore the remaining articles in the paper.
    • Direct students to the Bill Mauldin cartoon on the last page of the newspaper and compare to Mauldin’s cartoon, Bath in 15 Minutes.
    • Ask students, Do these cartoons match the tone of the newspaper? Why or why not?
  • View the Aftermath video on The Sicilian Campaign timeline together as a class.
  • Ask students, How does the historical importance of the invasion differ from the perspective from the newspaper?
  • Ask students to synthesize, How did the 45th Infantry Division contribute to the invasion of Sicily?
  • Students whose soldier died during the 1943 Sicily campaign can read aloud the name, rank, and date of death of their soldier and post the card at the front of the classroom to note those who lost their lives in this phase of the campaign.

Activity Two: Anzio (30-45 minutes)

  • Project the ABMC Liberating Rome Interactive on the board or share the link with students to examine the site on their own device.
  • Explore Liberating Rome through the tab marked 5-20 June 1944.
    • Teacher Tip: If students click on the “45” within the legend on the battle map, they can focus on only the maneuvers of the 45th Infantry Division for each time period in the campaign.
  • Distribute (or share digitally) the Activity Two documents.
    • Ask the students to explore the February 22, 1944, edition of the 45th Division News.
    • Project or distribute Brummett Echohawk’s drawing A Factory Charge that highlights a charge the 45th Infantry Division participated in during the Battle of Anzio.
    • Ask students,
      • How is the battle presented in the two primary sources compared to the digital timeline?
      • How do the battle sketches done by infantryman Brummett Echohawk compare to cartoonist Bill Mauldin?
  • Ask students to synthesize, How did the 45th Infantry Division contribute to the invasion of Anzio?
  • Students whose soldier died during the Spring 1944 Anzio campaign can read aloud the name, rank, and date of death of their soldier and post the card at the front of the classroom to note those who lost their lives in this phase of the campaign.
    • Teacher Tip: It is important for students to understand that reinforcements were continually added to each regiment, especially after fierce battles. More than half of the soldiers on the cards will have lost their lives by the end of the Anzio campaign. If you feel students will lose focus after the death of their soldier, split students into groups and when you pass out the cards, distribute the cards where every group has at least one soldier who survives through the liberation of Dachau.

Activity Three: Operation Dragoon (20 minutes)

  • Project ABMC resource World War II: A Visual History on the board or share the link with students to examine the site on their own device.
    • From the timeline, click the “1944” button and then, “Southern France Campaign.”
    • View the footage of the invasion of southern France.
  • Distribute (or share digitally) the Activity Three documents.
    • Ask the students to explore the September 6, 1944, edition of the 45th Division News.
    • Project photograph Operation Dragoon.
    • Ask students, Why does Operation Dragoon receive less coverage than the other campaigns? Was it less important than Sicily or Anzio?
  • Ask students to synthesize, How did the 45th Infantry Division contribute to Operation Dragoon?
  • Examine the Fallen Hero profile and play the eulogy video for Technical Sergeant Bernard Fox.
  • Students whose soldier died during Operation Dragoon (August to October 1944) can read aloud the name, rank, and date of death of their soldier and post the Soldier Dossier Card at the front of the classroom to note those who lost their lives in this phase of the campaign.

Activity Four: Liberation of Dachau (30 minutes)

  • Teacher Tip: The following activity contains graphic images and descriptions of Holocaust victims and survivors. Viewer discretion is advised.
  • Project the “45th Infantry Division” page from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum onto the board or share the link with students to examine the site on their own device.
  • Project “The Liberation of Dachau” page from the 45th Infantry Division Museum onto the board or share the link with students to examine the site on their own devices.
  • Project the photograph Dachau: Bodies Awaiting Cremation April 30 1945.
  • Distribute (or share digitally) copies of 45th Division News from May 13, 1945.
    • Ask students, How is the description of the liberation of Dachau treated in comparison to the other events from the newspapers?
  • Ask students to synthesize, How did the 45th Infantry Division contribute to the liberation of Dachau?
  • Students whose soldier died during the campaign to liberate Dachau (April 1945) can read aloud the name, rank, and date of death of their soldier and post the Soldier Dossier Card at the front of the classroom to note those who lost their lives in this phase of the campaign.

Activity Five: Munich (15-30 minutes)

  • Distribute (or share digitally) copies of 45th Division News from July 10, 1945.
  • Ask students to compare July 10 edition of 45th Division News to previous issues.
  • Ask students,
    • Does the tone of the paper change from the first issue to the last?
    • Soldiers were ordered to leave Dachau and continue marching to Munich just two days after liberating the camp. What is the emotional toll on soldiers to leave behind those at the camp and continue fighting?
    • After 511 days of fierce combat, how or why does the liberation of Dachau become the defining act of the 45th Infantry Division?
Assessment
  • Students will write a newspaper article in the style of the 45th Division News and reflect on the 511 days of combat for the division.
    • Teacher can assign an article tied to the Soldier Dossier Card each student carried throughout the lesson or have students reflect on the entire campaign in the writing piece.
  • The Newspaper Article Rubric can be used to score the article.
Methods for Extension
  • Students with more interest in the Italian campaign can explore the ABMC resources beyond the scope of the 45th Infantry Division’s involvement.
  • Students who are interested in the liberation of other camps during World War II can read Hell Before Their Very Eyes by John C. McManus.
  • Students can read more about Lieutenant Colonel Felix Sparks in The Liberator: One World War II Soldier’s 500-Day Odyssey by Alex Kershaw.
  • Students can explore the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website.
  • Students interested in the Holocaust can read Once by Morris Gleitzman.
  • Students interested in the 45th Division News can research Ernie Pyle and investigate how war reporting changed during World War II.
Adaptations
  • Teachers can adapt the project for advanced learners by requiring students to find and evaluate at least one additional primary and secondary source for each campaign.
  • Teachers can condense the activities by using only the ABMC resources or only the 45th Division News to cover each stage of the campaign.
  • Teachers can have students draw a cartoon in the style of Bill Mauldin or a sketch in the style of Brummett Echohawk as an alternative to writing a newspaper article.
  • Teachers can change the final assessment to a group activity and have students design the front page of a newspaper instead of writing one article. Students can design and publish a digital newspaper using free online digital publication resources.
  • Teacher can read aloud newspaper excerpts or record newspaper articles as needed for students.