Saturday, May 16, 2009


When Tom Myers came in to visit, he explained his experience in World War II to my students in relatively general terms. The students still got a good idea of what he had been through but weren't subjected to a gory account of the war. While he was in my class, Tom lent me an original comic that was all about his experience. The comic is called "G.I. Thomas R. Myers, Prisoner of War in Germany" and it was writen and drawn by Marcel Scheidweiler, a man who lives in the town of Weiler and talked with Tom extensively about December 1944.

The comic described in very exact detail how I Company, 3rd Battalion, 110th Regiment, 28th US Infantry Division was stationed at Weiler when the Battle of the Bulge started. Tom was part of the 28th Infantry Division and was sleeping when the first artillery shells started hitting the town. He quickly headed out to face the advancing Germans who turned out to be from the 5th Parachute Division. Tom was positioned in a foxhole in front of Weiler but retreated to the town when his foxhole buddy was killed. Tom and the rest of his comrades held Weiler throughout the day on December 16th, 1944 against a far superior German force.

Completely surounded and out of ammo, Tom and his surviving friends tried to escape during that night but most were either killed or captured as they tried to slip through German patrols. Tom spent the rest of the war in a German work camp. Years after the war, the citizens of Weiler remembered the heroic stand of the 28th Infantry Division and named a round-about after Tom Myers. I believe Tom said it was named Myers Square.

In honor of Tom Myers and his incredible experience, I designed a Memoir '44 scenario titled Weiler-Putscheid. This map, as far as I know, is the most historically correct scenario I have ever designed because I used the detailed maps that were included in Mr. Scheidweiler's comic who happens to be a resident of the area. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

High Desert Rendezvous

Wednesday, May 6th, was the High Desert Rendezvous. Many of the teachers who had attended the different history lectures and most of the teachers who received a mini-grant were there. I did a short presentation about my Memoir '44 History Club by showing a movie that I made about the club. The other teachers were very interested in how I used the game to teach history. Most of the people I was talking to were high school or middle school history teachers and Memoir '44 fits perfectly with that age. I had several middle school teachers talk about starting their own clubs!

My presentation elicited a lot of questions. The teachers wanted to know how long we meet for, how the game works, how long it takes the students to set up the battles, and how well the game follows history. I was happy to explain the game system and was able to tell them what a powerful tool Memoir '44 has been for teaching history to my students.

Outside the conference room I set up two Memoir '44 battles: Omaha Beach and Ste. Mère-Église. Days of Wonder very generously donated a Memoir '44 poster for me to use in my presentation and it created quite a stir. Along with the poster and battles, I also displayed pictures from the club, one of our Campaign Bags, some resources I've created, and the three expansions we used in the Memoir '44 History Club (the Air Pack, Terrain Pack, and Pacific Theater). Before they left, every teacher received an educators discount coupon from Days of Wonder to start their own Memoir '44 Club!

The High Desert Rendezvous was a great platform for me to outline how I taught history this year through Memoir '44. I hope the other teachers had as much fun as I did.

Friday, May 1, 2009

History Club Final Session

Thursday, April 30th was our last Memoir '44 History Club session for the 2008-2009 school year. Students and parents brought in snacks and juice. The kids sat around and chatted for the first little while and then we started our last battles.

Two students played Operation Cobra while everyone else settled in for The Cadets of Saumur Overlord battle. As I looked around my classroom, I realized that this was our last time together for a long time. I have plans to resume the Memoir '44 History Club next year with any of these students who are interested and adding in students from my current 3rd grade class, but it'll never be the same as this glorious first year. Who knows, maybe it'll be better.

The students are starting to get really good at Overlord Battles (for 9-10 year old kids) and this battle was exceptionally close. The Germans won with 12 medals to the Allied 11 but it could have gone the other way. Everyone was excited to have such a satisfying battle to close out the year.

Now that we're done meeting for the club I have a lot of work to do in the "off season". I need to consolidate all of the Memoir '44 equipment I have into the most efficient storage equipment, prepare a basic schedule for next year and determine what we're going to study. I plan to design additional tools to help me teach some of the more complex rules to the kids and I hope to make about six or seven Dice Towers following the plans I was given by Jim M.

Thank you to everyone who has supported this club and encouraged us to keep playing. I especially want to thank the Teach American History organization for the grant money that made this project a reality and for their excitement about our activities. Days of Wonder has also been extremely supportive of the Memoir '44 History Club, so I want to thank Eric and his team for their help! I look forward to next year and I'll keep everyone updated on my "off season" projects.