Happy Valentine’s Day from the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum! In honor of this month’s holiday I found it fitting to showcase a few souvenirs in the collection that were given to the Seabee “sweethearts”.
During times of war, many Seabees made trinkets called “trench art” in their off duty hours while deployed to pass their time. Trench art is decorative items made out of materials available around them such as scrapped metal and gun casings. Seabees would fashion pieces of art or jewelry for their wives or girlfriends back home to show them their affection while deployed during WWII. This trench art bracelet was created by a Seabee with the 63rd Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) during WWII in the Pacific Theater. The 63rd NCB was deployed to the islands of Guadalcanal, Emirau, and Manus to build dock facilities, ammunition depots, Quonset huts, roads, and airstrips. This bracelet is made of aluminum with a large heart in the center with the engraving “To Clara, My Love, Leon”.
Another gift is a hand drawn picture on a handkerchief from a Seabee who served in Guam in 1946 for his love. This handkerchief’s handmade drawings are in ink of a couple kissing with a green heart in the background and a drawing of Mount Fuji, Japan in the background with the setting sun and tree in the front. The handkerchief has Japanese writing, Kanji, in the upper right of the hanky, and the lower left has, “Be lovely, to love!!” written in large letters next to the lovely art of the kissing couple.
Seabee souvenirs could be purchased on many bases as well. This Seabee sweetheart charm was purchased by a Seabee of the 10th NCB for his girl back home to wear around her neck and to keep him close to her heart while he was serving in the Pacific Theater during WWII. The Seabees of the 10th NCB constructed Quonset villages, aviation repair shops, submarine piers, and water distribution systems on Guam, Oahu, Canton Island, and Johnston Atoll.
Seabees love to give mementoes and gifts to their sweethearts back home to let them know they have not been forgotten and they are thought of often. Come to the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum and see more gifts brought back by the Seabees!
“Meet the Curator: Robyn King is pursuing her master’s degree in Museum Studies and Nonprofit Management through Johns Hopkins University. She earned her Bachelors in History and Anthropology from the State University of New York at Oneonta. She has experience working at state museums, historic sites, the National Park Service, and most recently the Navy. She is an expert in collection management, and has worked closely with both natural and cultural collections. Robyn loves all museums and sharing her love of history. When she is not working, she is volunteering her time with the National Peace Corps Association, as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from West Africa.”