Lesson Plan: Italian Campaign Fact Quest

Aim

To increase youth’s awareness of Canadian efforts in the Second World War’s Italian Campaign.

Objectives

Youth will:

  • demonstrate a basic understanding of the events surrounding the Italian Campaign;
  • gain an appreciation of the challenges faced by the Canadians who served in the Italian Campaign; and
  • develop an awareness of the importance of remembering the sacrifices and achievements of Canadian Veterans.

Target Audience

This activity is suitable for ages 15 to 18.

Sequence of Events and Anticipated Time Frame [70 minutes]

(This activity can be modified to fit available time.)

  • Introductory Discussion [15 minutes]
  • Research [20 minutes]
  • Debrief [20 minutes]
  • Wrap-up Discussion [15 minutes]
  • Possible Extension Activity [variable]

Materials

Introductory Discussion [15 minutes]

Begin a discussion about wars. More than one million Canadians served in uniform during the Second World War—that is more than the entire population of some provinces. Ask youth if any of them know about the Italian Campaign, or the important role that Canadians played in this important chapter of the war.

Talk about where Italy is compared to Canada and how large and deadly the Second World War was. You could discuss things like how the Canadian soldiers who fought in the Italian Campaign faced heavy resistence from the enemy and challenges like barbed wire, heavy artillery and machine guns. You could explore existing knowledge youth may have based on movies they have seen, books they have read or stories they have heard.

Research [20 minutes]

Distribute the Canada Remembers the Italian Campaign historical sheet and the question sheet. Have everyone read the information sheet and answer the questions. Tell them that they will be called on to share what they have learned. They should also locate Italy on a map during this phase of the activity.

Debrief [20 minutes]

Ask them to identify Italy on the world map and lead a debrief of the answers they found for the questions. Take the opportunity to see if anyone has family or neighbours who may have served in the Second World War. They can also share their personal thoughts on Canada’s military efforts in that key battle so long ago.

Wrap-up Discussion [15 minutes]

Ask them to reflect on the following statement:

More than 93,000 Canadians served in the Italian Campaign between July 1943 and February 1945. It was bitter fighting and some 26,000 Canadians became casualties, almost 6,000 of whom lost their lives. But, with great courage and sacrifice, the Canadians played a key role in the eventual Allied victory there and the liberation of Europe during the Second World War.

Then lead a discussion based on the following questions:

  • Do you think the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform in the Italian Campaign to help the Allies triumph in the Second World War were worth it?
  • What do you imagine the Italians think about the Canadians who fought so hard and sacrificed so greatly to help liberate their country?
  • Do you think it is important to remember the Canadians who served in the Second World War even though the war has been over for so long?
  • How should youth of today express how they remember events like the Italian Campaign? Can you think of any special new ways to remember those who served?

You could cap off the lesson by showing the Heroes Remember the Italian Campaign videos [3 videos, each shorter than 10 minutes] which give an engaging overview of what it was like to fight in Sicily and mainland Italy, in the words of Canadian Veterans who were there.

Possible Extension Activity [variable]

There are a number of ways you could extend this lesson. For example, you could ask youth to imagine that they are war correspondents covering the Italian Campaign and then have them file news reports on the battle’s events. These could be in the form of mock newspaper articles, radio broadcasts or newsreels. Alternately, they could imagine that they fought in Italy and were writing home to tell their family or friends what they had just been through. Or they could imagine that they are a loved one writing to a soldier in Italy asking if he is okay, what it was like and how he is feeling.

Inviting a Veteran to be a guest speaker would be an exceptional opportunity to learn first-hand what it was like to serve in the cause of peace and freedom. For more information visit the Memory Project Speakers Bureau website.

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