Baby name story: Sea Bee

Marie Fouchard holding baby Séa Beé (1944)
Marie Fouchard holding baby Séa Beé

On July 2, 1944 — just a few weeks after D-Day — a Frenchwoman in the Norman village of Sainte-­Marie-du-Mont went into labor.

U.S. Navy Seabee medical officers in Normandy received word that the woman was in need of emergency medical assistance, so they sent a doctor. (The Seabees are part of the U.S. Naval Construction Battalion; the word “Seabee” comes from the acronym “C.B.”)

The Seabee doctor arrived just moments after the birth of a baby girl. He immediately began to render postnatal care.

In the days that followed, the medical staff of the battalion paid many visits to the home of Henri and Marie Fouchard.

In honor of the Seabees, the Fouchards named their daughter Séa Beé Paule Fouchard.


Image: U.S. Navy Seabee Museum

4 thoughts on “Baby name story: Sea Bee

  1. What an interesting name story. I enjoyed reading the rest of the story from the links. I’m wondering, though, if Sea Bee’s name had the accent marks as above. Séa Beé (shouldn’t the accent, if any, be on the first ‘e’?) would be pronounced very differently from Sea Bee, and since those two words aren’t French, it would seem that accent marks wouldn’t be used.

  2. Good question, Patricia.

    I didn’t know about the accent marks until I saw her birth certificate, which I found at the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum Facebook page. I’ve added the image to the post. (Click to enlarge.)

    On the birth certificate, the accents are above the “e” in Sea and the 2nd “e” in Bee. They might be misplaced, I don’t know — but that’s the only official document I have to go by.

  3. Nancy, being able to see her birth certificate is really cool! It would be interesting to know how Séa Beé’s parents pronounced her name. And how her teachers did too when first seeing it on a class lis. But then the story of her birth and naming may have been widely known where she lived.

  4. The accent is most definitely misplaced for Beé but her parents may have hesitated and just asked to add an accent and it went on the wrong letter. Both words not being French, the person registering her birth may have been flustered and a bit lost.

    I would assume she went by as “Séa” pronounced Sayah. That’s how a French person reads her written name. Considering the era and the general knowledge of English in France at the time, I’d be very surprised if she were known as “See Bee” although I assume that would have been easier to go by as it’s very close to Sybille.

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