BIOGRAPHY

CARL KENNETH LINDLEY

JANUARY 24, 1919

FEBRUARY 20, 2002

CKL1
Written by Kenneth E.  Lindley (son) and Karen Lindley
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Carl Kenneth “Kennie” Lindley was born January 24, 1919, in Eugene, Vermillion, Indiana to Henry Luther and Edith Pearl Lindley (nee Pavey).  Kennie was the 11th child in a household of 12 children.  Henry first married Cora Hays in 1901, in Edgar County, Illinois, where the young family made their home until late 1909, following Cora’s death from appendicitis.  Three children were born to this union:  Lafayette Earl Lindley, (m. Cora Lee McQueen), Ethel D. Lindley (m. Mervyn Albert Green), and Elva E. Lindley (m. Fred Pichon).

 

Henry then married Edith Pearl Pavey Long on April 24, 1910, in Fountain County, Indiana.  Edith Pavey had previously been married to Lewis P. Long and brought their two children to her marriage with Henry:  Charles A. Long (m. Stella Mae Cundiff) and Esther A. Long (m. Charles McDaniel).  Henry and “Pearl” had seven children together, four* of whom served during World War II:  Edith Viola Lindley; Helen Fauniel Lindley; twins *Oscar Ernest Lindley and *Austin Everett Lindley; Ralph H. Lindley; *Carl Kenneth, subject of this story; and *Lucille Maxine Lindley. 

 

The family moved from Vermillion County, Indiana, to Danville, Illinois, between 1920 and 1922, and Henry soon engaged in the dairy business from about 1921 to about 1935.  Henry operated a dairy that was located near their home at 835 East North Street in Danville.  Kennie remembered delivering milk as a young boy with his older brothers.  He also cut coal mine props and worked at Adam Schenk’s (barbeque, hamburgers, etc.) while in high school.  Prior to the war, Kennie worked at Coryel Gas Station, and he was a “shank trimmer” and “joiner” at Musebeck Shoe Company, a factory where his twin brothers Oscar and Austin were also employed. 

 

Carl Kenneth Lindley was inducted into the U.S. Army on Feb 14, 1942, as a private at Camp Grant (Rockford, Illinois).  Basic training was at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  In what must have been one of his earliest letters to sister Ethel, Kennie expressed regret about leaving his sweetheart Elinor.  He was with Company D, 341st Army Corp of Engineers at Fort Ord, California, when he left the U. S. by rail on April 25, 1942, traveling 2000 miles to arrive at Dawson Creek, British Columbia, in early May.  They would construct the southern portion of the Alaska “Alcan” Highway, an all-weather pioneer road, from Fort St. John, which is 60 miles north of Dawson Creek, 265 miles to the north, ending at Fort Nelson.  Each man had been issued two army blankets and slept on the ground. 

 

The 341st Engineers, Company D then traveled by truck over mountains to the Peace River and Fort St. John where they waited on the banks of Charlie Lake for the arrival of equipment.  There, on May 14, 1942, a pontoon boat of equipment with 2 officers and 15 enlisted men on board was caught in a squall and capsized in near-freezing water.  Five of the men were saved from drowning by Swedish trapper Gus Hedin and his small row boat.  Twelve men lost their lives.  The life and heroics of Gus Hedin have been documented by Viktoria Sahl in her short film “The Swedish Trapper.” 

 

Kennie was next assigned to the “cat camp” (Caterpillar company), one of two hundred men commanded by Lois C. Goldberg, Sergeant Gene Julian and Sergeant David C. Hudson.  They worked 3 shifts, 20 hours per day, building bridges, culverts and laying corduroy (large logs) over muskeg and swamps.  Mechanics serviced                                  the equipment during the other four hours.  During the month of June, seasonal rains and thawing permafrost made the work almost impossible. Kennie’s father Henry died during this time, on June 14, 1942, but mail, which was delivered by pack train, was slow.  Kennie did not learn of his father’s death for some time and was unable to go to his father’s funeral.

 

As the road was built, the men moved on foot, carrying their rucksacks, blankets, and tools.  Kennie said the heavy but essential rucksacks “wore grooves” in the backs of the men.  Finally, in November, the Army issued sleeping bags to the men, who were still sleeping on the ground.  Kennie said, “Accidents, mosquitos, no see ums and yellow jaundice” plagued the troops.

The Alcan Highway was opened to traffic in September, 1942, and Kennie and the rest of Company D were stationed from White Horse and to the south, along the highway, to keep the bridges and road open for winter supplies to Alaska.

 

Company D was back in Dawson Creek to build four spurs at the railhead and metal huts when, on February 13, 1943, a fire spread to an old livery barn in the center of town where thousands of miles of copper wire, kegs of nails and tools were stored, alongside cases of percussion caps and a truck load of dynamite.  Company D fought the fire through the night and lost one of its men when an explosion blew him off the ladder on which he was standing.  The explosions and fire nearly destroyed the entire town.

 

At the Peace River, nearly one-third of the bridge had to be replaced in unbearable and dangerous conditions with high wind and 65 degree below zero temperatures.

 

Arriving at the Liard River, the men of Company D set up a saw mill, cut timbers and replaced bridges in the area during spring thaw, which washed out the Liard River bridge.  They maintained the road, keeping the road open to traffic moving supplies to the north.

 

Near Lower Post, British Columbia, at mile 627, Section K squad was building a loading platform for dump trucks when Kennie was injured by a truck running over and smashing his foot.  He was taken to the Army Aid Station at Watson Lake, Yukon Territory, to recuperate and was assigned to repair and paint a directional post that had been nearly destroyed by a bulldozer.  Longingly thinking of home, he added a sign with his hometown to the post “Danville, Illinois 2835 miles.”  Seeing this, his comrades began to add their own home towns, unwittingly starting a tradition and a tourist attraction known as the Sign Post Forest at Watson Lake.  Today, the Sign Post Forest has over 72,000 signs.  A replica Sign Post Forest was constructed in Danville, Illinois, at East Harrison and North Vermillion and dedicated to Kennie’s memory in 2010.

 

Kennie was back at home on July 29, 1943, on a short furlough.  Kennie and Elinor Edna Connelly were married during Kennie’s furlough, on August 13, 1943, in Urbana, Illinois.  Some days after their marriage, he reported to Camp Sutton, North Carolina, for combat training.  (We do not know the date of his departure or transportation mode.)  He shipped out from Camp Sutton on October 21, 1943 on the USS Siboney.  In his 1985 recount of the 341st Engineers war efforts in the European Theater, he said:

 

We disembarked at Cardiff, Wales, England, on November 2, 1943.  The Regiment stationed its companies at different locations throughout southwest England where the men received additional training.  They operated an “Assault Battle Range” at Slapton Sands.  Each company had assignments along the coast of England until the invasion of France on June 6, 1944. 

 

The 341st Engineers Regiment landed on Normandy at Utah beachhead on June 23, 1944.  Men and equipment assignments were roads, repairs, bridges, stockades for prisoners, railroads, food, fuel and as infantry men and reconnaissance.  The 341st Engineers were much in demand due to their experience and [being a] well-seasoned outfit.

 

Much of the 341st Regiment was involved in the “Battle of the Bulge.”  Many men were transferred to the infantry.  Several were injured, killed or taken prisoner of war.  Several companies were trapped behind the German lines when the Bulge started.  However, when the Germans had moved on without coming in contact, our troops worked their way back to better areas…..

 

 

As tgressed, each of the companies was assigned to railroads and bridges.  The assignments were to aid all transportation.  The A. S. C. Z. (Advance Section of Communications Zone) worked at the front of and at the rear of the front lines.

 

When the war ended, some of the companies were near the Austria border.

 

The 341st Engineers Regiment was well known for their service by all of the armies at the fronts.  They were called on by the 101 Airborne, Third Army and many other units in the front lines.  They served in five campaigns in Europe, Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe.

 

The 341st Engineers Regiment moved to the South of France.  Most of the original men were transferred out for return to the U. S. A. by air.  Most had discharge points well over 105….

 

This [recount] is dedicated to all men who lost their lives and to those taken prisoner of war.

 

--- Carl K. Lindley

 

At some point while in Europe, Kennie was transferred to Company C, 266th Engineers while in Southern France, and he achieved the rank of TEC4.

 

While in Europe, Kennie had a few opportunities to visit with his twin brothers: Austin in Carduff, Wales in 1944, and Oscar in Southern France in 1945.  Their sister L. Maxine was also serving in the U. S. Cadet Nurses Training Corp. at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Danville. 

 

Kennie left Marseille, France, on September 2, 1945.  After stops in Africa at Casablanca, Dakar and Natal, and then stops in South America at Brazil and Georgetown in British Guiana, he arrived at Homestead Air Base, Florida, September 6, 1945.  Kennie was discharged from the Army on September 12, 1945.  For his service (3 years, 1 month and 6 days of foreign service, plus 5 month and 23 days of domestic service), he received an American Theater Ribbon, European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon with 1 Silver Battle Star, 6 Overseas Service Bars, 1 Service Stripe and a Good Conduct Medal. 

 

Kennie and Elinor had 2 sons, Kenneth E. and Gary D.  From 1960 through 2003, several members of Company D, 341st Engineers enjoyed reuniting for one weekend each summer. 

 

After his return to civilian life, Kennie learned the printing trade at Danville Engraving Company where he was employed for several years.  He retired from R & S Printing at the end of April, 1984, with over 30 years of service.  Kennie died at Carle Hospital in Urbana, Illinois, on February 20, 2002, at the age of 83.  He lived almost his entire life in Danville.