Friday, March 27, 2009

History Week

Sorry it's taken so long to update everyone on last week's activities. I'm on Spring Break and it's been a busy week of doing nothing!

We had visitors to our club last week and unfortunately I forgot to get any pictures of our first guest. Luckily he wants to see how Memoir '44 works so we'll have him back another time and I can get a picture then.

On Tuesday, March 17th, we were visited by Tom Myers. Tom (as he prefered to be called) is a veteran of World War II and was a reserve for the 5th Armored when they hit the Siegfried line. Later he was transferred to the 28th Infantry Division and fought in Hurtgen Forest. When he was finally moved out of that dark forest, he helped defend the small town of Weiler as part of I Company, 3rd Battalion, 110th Regiment 28th US Infantry Division. On December 16, 1944 the Germans started the battle that became known as the Battle of the Bulge and attacked Weiler. Tom and his unit successfully defended the town until they were surrounded and then pulled back to rejoin their battalion HQ. Most of the men didn't make it and Tom was captured on December 17, 1944.

Tom shared his amazing story with the students and then they had a chance for some very interesting questions. Tom was very humble as he showed them his medals (including a Bronze Star) and when he was asked what he got the medals for, simply said, "I did my job."

On Thursday, March 19th, Peter Hawkins came to talk with the club. Because it was just before Spring Break, many of the students couldn't be there but Mr. Hawkins (as he wanted us to call him) provided some good information for the students that were there. Mr. Hawkins was in the military starting in 1967 and had family from Germany who were in World War II. He studied the war and received a Masters in Military History with a focus on World War II from American Military University.

Mr. Hawkins helped put the War in context for the students and answered many of their questions. He also brought some of his World War II collections including several GI Joe collectables, a dummy pineapple grenade, and some .50 caliber bullets. This is a picture of Peter Hawkins with the students who were able to come learn from him.

Thank you to both guests who came to spend time with my students! They will never forget it and I believe they now have a better understanding of World War II history because of your visits. Thank you.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Scenario Design

Last week we spent both days researching a battle and then designing a scenario to match it. I discovered that designing a Memoir '44 scenario may be expecting too much from 9 year-olds, but I've been surprised by these kids before so I won't give up yet. It may just take a few tries before they manage to create a quality scenario.

We read about the battle for Hurtgen Forest in the lead-up to the Battle of the Bulge. The students helped me write the historical background and then worked on the map design by themselves. They had some trouble knowing where to place the terrain and units to make an interesting and even battle, but they had a lot of fun trying to figure it out.

We'll do some editing work but the most important step will be when we play them, which will show them what changes they need to make. While the scenarios may not be incredibly accurate, they do give a sense of the battle and they are a good first try.

I meant to take pictures of the students working on computers but got so engrosed in our work that I forgot. I'll make sure to get some pictures next time.

Friday, March 6, 2009

D-Day Landings Completed

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 was an historical day for the Memoir '44 History Club, here at Jewell Elementary. It marked the start of Operation Overlord for a group of 13 young generals as they stormed the beaches of Normandy and defended the coast of France.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009 marked the end of those landings with the completion of Omaha Beach. The D-Day Landings Tournament is over. We learned about the Allied invasion of France, talked about the Allied deception, and reviewed the historical results of each landing beach. Students played each of the Memoir '44 D-Day beach landing battles from both sides.

The top two teams played in the finals for the title of D-Day Champion. The Pickled Ponies were in the lead with 4 previous victories, but they were up-set by FS 101 Duel Shock. In a close battle, the Pickled Ponies lost the advantage in the first round of Omaha Beach and never managed to recover from their medal deficit.

Our D-Day Champions are Francisco and Skyler, members of FS 101 Duel Shock. Congratulations boys, you earned it!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Launch Operation Overlord

As we come to the end of our D-Day Landing Tournament, I decided it was time to take a quick break from tournament battles to try an Overlord battle. For those of you who don't play Memoir '44, an Overlord battle is where you take two boards and put them end-to-end. Two teams face off on a map that is more detailed than a normal map can be.

In an Overlord battle, each side has three Field Generals who are in charge of the troops in their section only. Behind the Field Generals are Commanders-in-Chief who hold the cards and hand out orders as they see fit. The whole process is designed to mirror the real complications and limitations that Generals and Commanders faced on the battle field.

My students squared off on the Omaha Beach Overlord Battle. They chose their teams; three Field Generals on one side and four on the other. The Commanders-in-Chief reviewed their cards while I reviewed the Overlord-specific rules with them. The battle was crazy, noisy, fast, and surprisingly close. In the end the Germans won by a single medal. Everyone had fun.

In a discussion afterward, the students could see how difficult communication during battle could be for generals and their staff. They are eager to try another Overlord battle.