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Monday, February 26, 2024

Oliver Julian ‘Judd’ Kendall, the ‘Nathan Hale’ of the World War

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Oliver Julian Kendall was born in Naperville on Dec. 30, 1888, the son of Francis Austin Kendall and Linnie Mae Strubler.

Judd (as friends called him) attended Ellsworth Elementary School and Naperville High School, graduating in 1907. He attended the North Central College Preparatory school in 1909.

For a brief time, Judd worked as a Civil Engineer and Surveyor for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. At the outbreak of World War I, he answered the call of duty and entered the Army on June 14, 1917. Judd received his commission as a second and then first lieutenant at the officers’ training camp at Ft. Sheridan in Lake County, Illinois. He completed his training at the National Training School for Engineers at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, and was assigned to Co. D, 1st Engineers Regiment, 1st Division. Lt. Kendall sailed to France on September 10, 1917. On the evening of May 24 and early morning hours of the 25, Lt. Kendall led a 50-man infantry work party in forward trench areas. Enemy fire scattered the troops in the trenches.

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Lt. Kendall went forward to reconnoiter and was never seen alive again.

Later it was determined that he was taken prisoner by a German raiding party. Lt. Kendall was fully aware an attack on the village of Cantigny would be the first American offensive of the war in just a couple of days. Kendall refused to talk to the German soldiers who had taken him prisoner. And even though he was in full uniform, they tortured him and then shot him as a spy for refusing to divulge the details of the upcoming American offensive.

It has been written that Judd Kendall’s refusal to divulge information was “the most vital single incident of the entire war.”

When the facts of how he died were made public, Kendall became widely acclaimed as the “Nathan Hale” of the World War.

As a true American hero, he is honored by the Naperville VFW Post 3873 that bears his name, the Naperville Judd Kendall Memorial Way, Kendall Park at Washington Street and Fifth Avenue as well as the Oliver Julian Kendall Elementary School, 2408 Meadow Lake Drive, in School District 204.

Eighty years after his death, he was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart, and World War I Victory Medal through the efforts of the Naperville VFW.

Oliver Julian Kendall grave marker in Somme, France.

Oliver Julian Kendall was a member of Euclid Lodge No. 65, A.F. & A.M. He died May 25, 1918, in Cantigny, France, and is buried in the Somme American Cemetery, Bony, France. A cenotaph is erected in the Kendall plot of the Naperville Cemetery for Judd.

In 1930, Judd Kendall’s mother, Linnie, participated in the World War Gold Star Mothers’ Pilgrimage to his grave in the Somme Cemetery.

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Tim Ory
Tim Ory
Tim Ory is a fifth-generation Naperville native, descended from Francois Sebastien Ory, who immigrated to America from Alsace Lorraine, France, in 1844. Signing off as "Tim Ory, Historian, Euclid Lodge No. 65 Ancient Free & Accepted Masons," Tim adds that he continues to research the History of the Masonic Lodge and Naperville every day. Contact him at tjory@sbcglobal.net.

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