Dossier of Discovery: Uncle Wiggly Wings

article by Karen Jameyson , photos by Alamy

Learning Intention:

I am learning about the ways people have made a positive impact in world history so that I can consider how our actions can affect and inspire others.


Success Criteria:

  • I can discuss the cause and effect of the actions made by a historical figure
  • I can speculate about the experiences and emotions of children in World War II
  • I can compose a diary entry based on my understanding of the people involved in a historical event.


Understanding text:

After reading the Dossier of Discovery article, watch the ABC News video World War II veteran known as 'Candy Bomber' continues special delivery. Have class a discussion by asking students to answer following questions using the information they learnt from the article and video or, if you have a digital subscription, you can use the interactive activity.

  • What prompted Colonel Halvorsen to give two sticks of gum to the children he saw in Berlin? (He knew they had little food and must be hungry)
  • What problem did this pose for him? (He didn’t have enough for all the children)
  • What amazed him about the children’s reactions? (They carefully tore the gum into as many pieces as they could to go around)
  • What did this inspire him to do? (Drop sweets out of his plane the next day using handkerchiefs as parachutes)
  • What did his actions then inspire others to do? (People around the world donated money to support his project and other pilots got involved)

Discuss the snowball effect of the children’s gesture affecting him, then his kindness inspiring others and not only causing them to donate and get involved, but also continue his legacy seven decades later.


Ask students to take some time to consider if they have their own examples of times when other people’s kindness has inspired them or they themselves have inspired others. Have those who are willing share their stories and ask the class to think about how the people on the receiving end of the kind gesture would have felt.

Discuss the feelings expressed by Ruth Cheever, the German woman interviewed in the video, who was a child when ‘Uncle Wiggly Wings’ made his drops. Ask students to consider why she would still feel such emotion about her experience in Berlin all those years ago. Discuss the hardships the children would have faced being at the center of a war and cut off by their country. Create a list or mind map on the board of student suggestions on what the children would have been experiencing or feeling at that time in their lives. This may include:

  • Fear and uncertainty
  • Loss of family and friends
  • Physical and emotional pain
  • Hunger


Ask students to now consider what the kindness of Colonel Halverson would have meant to the German children when they were facing such overwhelming difficulty in their lives. Discuss what students think this gesture may have provided to them at this time. Answers may include:

  • Joy and excitement during a time when there was very little of it
  • A much-needed distraction from their everyday reality
  • Temporary relief from hunger
  • A feeling that someone cares about what they are going through
  • A sense that freedom was coming.


Creating text:

Following this discussion, students should write a diary entry from the point of view of one of the children in Berlin. It should be in first person narrative and discuss what they have been feeling and experiencing, what happened on the day ‘Uncle Wiggly Wings’ showed up and how they felt.


Assessment for/as learning:

Students should swap their diary entry with a partner and give each other feedback using the ‘Stars and stairs’ method. If time allows, some students may also want to share their writing with the class.