The Challenges of Deployment: Interactions with Allies in the Pacific

Guiding Question:

How were the needs of deployed American troops met by the Allies?


Using interactive technology from the American Battle Monuments Commission, maps, and primary and secondary sources, students will analyze some of the challenges faced by American troops while being deployed in the Pacific and their host nations. Students will work together to create a guide for deployed troops in New Zealand to better navigate local customs.


Historical Context

The United States faced major geographic challenges in the Pacific Theater. American troops deployed to the Pacific needed support from Allied nations in the region to help supply food, fuel, and rest and relaxation (R&R). Allied nations who hosted American troops, including New Zealand, Australia, and India, were instrumental in the success of the American war effort. These host nations both supported and voiced concerns about American troops in their nations. Despite relatively amicable relations between Americans and European New Zealanders and Australians, some Americans tried to impose their segregationist views on the darker-skinned Aboriginal people (like the Māori), while staying as guests of the host country. This led to riots in the streets of New Zealand (Battle of Manners Street) and Australia (Battle of Brisbane).


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

  • Locate Allies and significant geographic positions on a Pacific map;
  • Analyze the conditions, treatment, and interactions of American troops in New Zealand; and
  • Analyze selected primary and secondary sources, photographs, videos, and documents to write a guide for soldiers stationed in New Zealand.

Standards Connections

Connections to Common Core
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

Connections to C3 Framework
D2.His.1.9-12 Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by unique circumstances of time and place as well as broader historical contexts.
D2.His.4.9-12 Analyze complex and interacting factors that influenced the perspectives of people during different historical eras.
D2.His.5.9-12 Analyze how historical contexts shaped and continue to shape people’s perspectives.
D2.His.16.9-12 Integrate evidence from multiple relevant historical sources and interpretations into a reasoned argument about the past.


Lesson Preparation


Activity One: Geography Prep (45 minutes)

  • Give each student a copy of the World War II Outline Map and the Document Collection Organizer.
  • Distribute rulers and/or string and colored pencils.
  • Ask students to identify and label the following places on their maps:
  • Ask students to code Axis and Allied powers and create a key.
  • Review the method for determining distance on a map (i.e. using scale).
  • Ask the students to measure the shortest, safest route between San Francisco, California, Honolulu, Hawaii, and Manila, Philippines. Draw and label the estimated distances on the map.
    • Teacher Tip: Students can use rulers or string to help estimate distances. Approximate distances are:
      • San Francisco, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii - 2,400 miles
      • Honolulu, Hawaii, to Manila, Philippines - 8,500 miles
  • Ask the students to measure the distance between the Philippines and New Zealand (approximately 8,300 miles). Draw and label the estimated distance on the map.
  • Ask the students:
    • What could alter the travel routes through the Pacific?
    • Are there factors that would make you want to go closer to, or further away from, the islands and landmasses nearby?
    • In the grand scheme of a war in the Pacific, how important do you think moving troops and supplies to battle would be?
    • How important would R&R (rest and relaxation) be? How long do you think someone can stay in active combat before they need an extended rest period?
    • When you are visiting someone, and you are their guest, how important do you think it is to follow the customs of the place you are visiting?
  • Project the World War II: A Visual History Interactive Timeline. Click “enter,” then “1942.” Guide students to familiarize themselves with the locations of battles and events in the Pacific. Key battles to examine should include: Guadalcanal Campaign, Papua Campaign, Northern Solomon Islands Campaign, Air Offensive Japan Campaign, and the Luzon Campaign.

Activity Two: Document Discovery (45 minutes)

  • Divide students into groups of three or four students each and set up the room to facilitate small group work.
  • Distribute (or make available electronically) one set of documents to each group and one Document Collection Organizer to each student.
  • Direct students to examine the various sources. Students should complete the Document Collection Organizer as they progress through the documents.

Assessment Materials

  • Assign U.S. Military in New Zealand Guide Assignment. Review instructions and answer any questions.
    • Teacher Tip: This task could be assigned individually or in small groups at teacher discretion.
  • The U.S. Military in New Zealand Guide Rubric can be used to score the map and guide.

Methods for Extension


  • Teachers can adapt the project to younger learners by working through the documents and completing the Document Collection Organizer as a class. Students can create a guide for American servicemen individually, or in small groups.


Return to Activity

Secondary Sources

Other Sources