Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan #2

The 1st Infantry Division-Into Combat: North Africa and Sicily

Webisode 2

Grade and Course: 9th-12th Grade U.S. History
Time Frame: (1 class period)


The invasion of North Africa and Sicily set the U.S. Army on the long path to ending Hitler's regime. The Big Red One forged the path for American troops to enter North Africa. Despite the initial reluctance to invade North Africa before France, the men entered French Morocco and Algeria in November 1942. Though the conquest of North Africa and elimination of Axis power from that region was supposed to last 6 weeks, it became a 6 month operation due to multiple errors by both British and American commanders. Through it all, the Big Red One continued their leadership and honed the skills that would be a necessity for the most important invasion: Normandy, France.

In this lesson, the second of a 5-day unit on the First Infantry Division, the instructor will continue to introduce the Big Red One and their major battles, namely, Operation Torch and Husky. This lesson uses documents, posters, maps, and photographs of each operation to help students discover the battle plans, mistakes, and the effects of war on the minds of the men who were a part of the 1st Division.

Topical Questions

Why did the United States first confront Hitler's armies in North Africa and Sicily?

How prepared were the troops for these battles?

How did these battles contribute to the defeat of the Nazis?

What benefit did the defeat at Kasserine Pass provide?

Why are amphibious operations so difficult?

Why was it important that the landings were successful?

Lesson Objectives

  1. Students will be able to read and analyze maps (military and civilian).
  2. Students will be able to identify key turning points during both operations.
  3. Students will explain the mistakes that were made in these battles.

Teaching Procedures

Starting Activity: Strategy of War

The instructor will begin class by having the students read their journal entries from the previous day and discuss the student's reactions. Then the instructor will introduce the day's lesson.

The instructor will have a military map and a civilian map (will be attached and available) up in the front of the room. They will discuss what they already know of maps, what kind of map each is and why they look so different from each other. The instructor will discuss an overview of maps and what their symbols mean (legends, etc).

  1. Military
  2. MAPS
  European Map    Picture
  Husky Invasion Map    Picture

Powerpoint Presentation

During the presentation, the students will be given a blank outline with questions. (EX: Where did the Big Red go in November, 1942?). Following along with the PowerPoint, the students will answer the questions when randomly called upon.

Hands on Demonstration

Journal Entries: Assignment/Assessment:

Give the students an image (leave it to the teachers discretion, can be one from the PowerPoint if they so choose) and have them write about the action in the picture related to strategy of war. Explain the key training points and mistakes made.


  • If the students appear to be getting lost in the miscellaneous facts, slowing down and discussing/explaining each fact in more detail would help.
  • For those students who seem to be ahead of the material, the instructor will ask them to share what they already know with the class rather than the instructor presenting the information.
  • Assessment/Review

    Do a verbal "fill-in-the-blank" with the students for a quick review, ask questions of the class and call on individual students.

  • Today we talked about? (Operation Torch and Husky)
  • Why were these important? (For the mistakes made and lessons learned/also because it was one of the first American operations to end Hitler's tyranny)
  • Where did these operations take place? (North Africa/Sicily)
  • Students will turn in the information sheet at the end of the period as another form of assessment.

    Materials and Resources

  • Military Map
  • Regular Map
  • Notes and PowerPoint
  • Screen and Projector
  • Handouts

  • Discussion Questions

    1. Following the Big Red One's arrival in Britain in 1942, what was Army commanders' original intention for its destination? Why was the Big Red One chosen as one of the military units sent to North Africa in 1942? What does that decision reveal about the state of U.S. and Allied military preparedness in 1942?
    2. Who was Winston Churchill and why was he important to decisions made about the Big Red One?
    3. What is an Army Chief of Staff and why would his decisions be important to the men of the Big Red One? What level of officers would you expect a WW2 veteran to remember well? Why?
    4. Where did Generals Eisenhower and Marshall want to invade first, before North Africa? Why didn't they invade there?
    5. What were the objectives of Operation Torch? Did the allies achieve these objectives?
    6. What was significant about Kasserine Pass?
    7. Where was Operation Husky? Why did the Allies pick this area to invade?
    8. What group met the Big Red One on the beachhead and tried to cripple the landing? What denied them success? What does this suggest about the importance of inter-service cooperation? What do veterans recall about inter-service cooperation? Do their memories accord with wartime events? Why or why not?
    9. What was the objective of Operation Husky? Did the allies achieve this objective?
    10. What were some mistakes that were made in the Mediterranean theater from November 1942 to July 1943? How did these mistakes affect the men of the Big Red One?
    11. What were two areas of combat that the 1st had become well trained in?

    Academic Standards

    US History 5.2, 5.3


    Identify and explain the importance of key events and people involved with the causes, course, and consequences of World War II.

  • Example: Events - Pearl Harbor (1941), Battle of Midway (1942), D-Day Invasion of Normandy (1944) and related battles.
  • USH.5.3

    Explain how the United States mobilized its economic and military resources to achieve victory in World War II. (Economics; Civics and Government)

    National History Standards, Era 8: 3B, Standard 3B

    The student understands World War II and how the Allies prevailed. Explain the major turning points of the war and contrast military campaigns in the European and Pacific theaters. [Draw upon data in historical maps]

    Historical Thinking Standards: 1D, 2G, 3C, 4F

    1D - Measure and calculate calendar time.

    2G - Draw upon data in historical maps.

    3C - C. Analyze cause-and-effect relationships and multiple causation, including the importance of the individual, the influence of ideas.

    4F - Support interpretations with historical evidence.