History of  MCB 11 1940's

Shortly after the disaster of Pearl Harbor, a new organization known as Construction Battalions was formed. The name "Seabee" developed, a play on the initials letters of the words "Construction Battalions." Artists were set to work to develop an insignia and the flying bee with hammer in one hand and machine gun in the other became the identifying insignia.

These units were conceived because of the fact that civilian construction men under the terms of international law were not able to bear arms and the Navy, foreseeing that armed, organized builders were to be needed in this all-out struggle, recruited experienced artificers to train them to be active participants in the war. Volunteers joined the new organization and in May, 1942, preparations were made to organize one battalion a week and train them at Camp Allen, Naval Construction Training Center, located at the Naval Operating Base at Norfolk, VA. 

After going through boot camp training, the battalion dress parade was held on June 28th. During the parade, the battalion flag and colors were presented by Captain J.G. Ware, Commanding Officer of the Training Center, to Lieutenant Commander Ernest A. Heckler, who was then tentatively assigned as Officer in Charge of the Eleventh Battalion. Thus the Eleventh Construction Battalion was formed. The "Lucky Eleventh" the painters tagged the battalion, and a pair of dice showing an "11" throw became the battalion's insignia. The insignia was the creation of Howard "H" Briggs, Painter first class, assigned to "A" Company. The Battalion was officially commissioned on July 12, 1942 at Camp Bradford.

On July 1st, Unit "A" moved to their new grounds, Camp Bradford, Little Creek, VA. At Camp Bradford, they moved into new living quarters, instead of barracks they moved into quonset huts, housing 12 men. It was here that the battalion began to take shape, consisting of 21 officers, 80 chief petty officers and 857 men.

"A" Company was commanded by Lt Benjamin Evans, and assisting him were Lt. Tom Moore and Ensign William Reidelbach. "B" Company was commanded by Lt William Young, assisted by Ensigns J.W. J. Petersen, A.E. Patch and Carpenter John Page. "C" Company was commanded by Lt. Rickard Strickland, assisted by Lt. Charles Middleton and Ensign Edwin Kueck. "D" Company was commanded by Lt. Edward Bryant, assisted by Ensigns William Krantz and Scott Ladd and Carpenter Charles Merritt. Headquarters Company, a combination of cooks, bakers, yeomen and specialists, was under the direction of Lt Alfred Roth, Jr, assisted by Carpenter Zannie Brantley. The Medical Department was led by Lt. Francis O'Brien and Lt. Daniel Hartman with Lt Charles Guthrie as battalion dentist.

From Camp Bradford, the battalion left July 26th and arrived at Camp Hueneme July 31st. There preparations were made for the first assignment. On August 12th, the anchor was lifted and the battalion departed Hueneme. Wherever anyone went on ship they carried their "Mae West" (life jacket), as the Jap submarine menace was still prevailing and no one wanted to take any undue chances. During the days, the companies participated in drill exercises, and at night there was a blackout (all types of lights, cigarettes, flashlights, ship lights -- were extinguished and strict darkness was in order).  The battalion finally disembarked at Pago Harbor Tutiula, Samoa. 

The battalion's activity began two days after arrival. The administration office and nerve center of the battalion was set up in Utulei. The engineering officer, personnel office and disbursing office were also in this area. The Supply Department took over a large warehouse and yard which housed unlimited material brought there previously by civilian contractors. The assignment at Poyer School was given to "A" Company which was then under the charge of Lt. Tom Moore. The Utulei district housed Company "B" and the majority of the Headquarters men, while Companies "C" and "D" were assigned the work in Tafuna and outlying districts on the south side of the island. Some of the work projects were: movement of 600,000 cubic yards of earth fill to form a base for the erection of the industrial area, a command post was erected at Pago Pago; oil tanks and barrage balloon sites, maintenance shops; at Tafuna taxiways and fingers at the existing air strip were added.

January 1943 brought another 154 men to the battalion, bringing it to its full complement for the first time since its organization. In June  the battalion was sent to Nickel Dock, New Caledonia, Noumea. From there they went New Zealand, Nov. 1943, and then to Banika (Russell Island) in the British Solomon Island group, Jan. 1944. February  27th, 292 more replacements joined the battalion. In April the battalion left for New Guinea arriving at Los Negros, Admiralty Islands. In November 1944, with 570 men and 28 officers, the battalion boarded one of the newest transports enroute to Camp Parks, Shoemaker, CA. The battalion then consisted of 13 original officers, seven officers appointed from the enlisted ranks and eight officers who joined from time to time, and of the enlisted men, 425 were from the original crew, 47 from the October '42 draft, 90 from the January '43 draft and the remainder were men who had joined from time to time.

The information on this page was supplied by Glenn Weidner