My name is Claude Ruggles and I’m a Seabees sailor from the 88th Naval Construction Battalion. On February 8th, 1943, I underwent advanced technical and military training at Camp Endicott, RI. It was during the first training that I started to customize my own blue indigo duffle bag. I wanted to make sure I kept a souvenir of every location and mission that we accomplished. Later, on April 27th, 1943 we left to train more at Camp Parks, CA. Finally, on July 3rd, 1943 we were shipped overseas to Mount Dore, New Caledonia. Now, we were closer to the war and much closer to the ferocious Imperial Japanese army! On my short breaks, I kept customizing my duffle bag by celebrating my work and the work of the entire battalion. I did some hand embroidery and mended some wear and tear with repurposed materials. But on November 13th, 1943, we were shipped again! This time to Doma Cover, Guadalcanal. The pressure was even higher! We had to quickly build camp structures, roads, storage areas, culverts, bridges, barges, and control towers. My job was really hard under the hot and humid sun of Guadalcanal! I sweated like a pig under that welding hood! The worst was the rain and the mosquitos! But even so, the boys and I welded as many metal structures as we could! We needed to make sure that the B-29 could land safely from their long bombing missions. Nevertheless, whenever I got a chance, I kept drawing the guys on our day-to-day chores in my diary. I also kept customizing my duffle bag even more by painting the Seabees mascot and myself at work! Many of the guys, asked me to draw a few things on their bags too! But my goal is to create a memento that I can pass on to my future children after the war! I want them to remember our hard work and sacrifices.
“We build, we fight!” Only we, the Seabees, CAN DO that!
This WW2 Seabees Duffle Bag is fully hand-painted. Furthermore, the canvas is a vintage Japanese duffle bag (or a laundry bag). Like any vintage item, the bag has signs of wear.
- One repurposed leather patch (custom cut) hand painted and distressed. The patch represents the WW2 88th Seabees Construction Battalion emblem. The leather patch was sawn by hand with vintage embroidery thread.
- The Seabee was hand-painted with high details and distressed later. Also, the SEABEES (in their original font) and USN were painted with custom stencils.
- The welder and flying B29 were only painted in three colors: black, desaturated yellow, and white.
- Camps and mission locations painted in white on stencils: Camp Endicott, Camp Parks, Port Hueneme, Mount Dore, Doma Cove, and Emirau.
- Sailor name painted with a custom stencil. Name: C. (Claude) Ruggles.
- Sewed in a white cotton web shoulder strap with a reinforced grab handle. Painted with US NAVY custom stencil.
- Two tied lucky charms on the grab handle: seashells and Virgin Mary.
- Two repurposed button pins that are mounted with recycled organic cotton (from tote bags) and are hand painted. The designs are the “C.B. USS Pinkney” button and the “Remember Pearl Harbor” button.
- Repurposed suede for the bottom of the bag and suede for the bag drawstring’s stopper. All sewed with my heavy-duty sewing machine.
- Two patches repurposed with US Navy fabric. Patch 1: Ship-fitter, 1st Class; Eagle hand sawn with silver billion and red wool felt. Patch 2: CB lettering: handmade embroidery (chain stitch).
- Three horizontal machine embroidery lines, along the whole bag.
- Hand embroidery (chain stitch) along the top of the bag with the Seabees motto: “WE BUILD, WE FIGHT! CAN DO!”
- Hand embroidery around each hoop on the top of the bag with a compass star motif, aloha Hawaii, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, and Guadalcanal.
- Distressing on the bag, strap, drawstring, bottom, and hoops. Also, holes were mended and stains were added.
- Custom-made Seabees pouch with repurposed fatigue HBT military fabric and 1940s Talon Zipper.
- I sewed the C.R. initials in a chain stitch on the top left of the pouch.
- Plus, repurposed and distressed cotton zipper pulls.
- Also, painted with custom Seabees emblem stencil and fully distressed
- Vintage handkerchief distressed, dyed, and handprinted with custom Seabees emblem stencil.
Seabees Duffle Bag:
49 cm width x 81.5 cm hight
19.29″ x 32″
37 cm x 37 cm
Custom Seabees HBT Pouch:
22 cm x 15.5 cm
The Wiki Tale of The Seabees:
United States Naval Construction Battalions, better known as the Seabees, form the Naval Construction Force (NCF) of the United States Navy. Their nickname is a heterograph of the first initials “C.B.” from the words Construction Battalion.
United States Naval Construction Battalions, better known as the Navy Seabees, form the U.S. Naval Construction Force (NCF). The Seabee nickname is a heterograph of the initial letters “CB” from the words “Construction Battalion”. Depending upon context, “Seabee” can refer to all enlisted personnel in the USN’s occupational field 7 (OF-7), all personnel in the Naval Construction Force (NCF), or the Construction Battalion. Seabees serve both in and outside the NCF. During World War II they were plank-holders of both the Naval Combat Demolition Units and the Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs). The men in the NCF considered these units to be “Seabee”. Read more…
Hand Painted Story Labels
This WW2 Seabees Distressed Duffle bag has its unique label tag from l’Atelier. The tag is numbered with the vest’s unique serial number and has a red wax handmade quality control seal. On the back of the label tag are my full story notes written by hand and hand-painted with watercolors. There are two other stapled tags: one for the -REMAKE©- list and one for measurements.
Each of the wearable art pieces will come with a certificate personally signed by me and with its serial number. This certificate certifies that this piece was handmade at L’ATELIER at 88th Company. It has your name and the serial number of the art piece.
Each art piece is unique and is not duplicated.
Hand Painted Packaging
Packaging is the last and most important part of the design process. Since all my items are hand-painted, it’s only natural to have the same method applied to their packaging.
On a beautiful large brown bag, I spray paint the 88th Company logo on a custom stencil. After inserting the custom item inside the bag, it is folded and closed with a vintage twine string. Finally, like a top-secret letter, the string knot is sealed with a custom wax seal.
This item receives free shipping anywhere around the world through DHL Express. However, taxes may apply from your country’s customs. So please, make sure to contact your local customs for information.
Please read my shipping & returns policy here.