Seaman’s troop ship, Susan B. Anthony, sunk in English Channel on D-Day

Bob Frazier, left, and his buddy, Clyde Hale, are pictured near Pier 42 in Manhattan. This is before the two teenage recruits shipped overseas in early 1944. Photo provided

Despite the German U-boat packs prowling the Atlantic, Seaman 1/C Bob Frazier survived 10 round-trips in the USS Susan B. Anthony, an attack transport, without a scratch taking troops to Europe in World War II.

It wasn’t until D-Day on June 6, 1944 during the focal point of the Normandy invasion that disaster struck.

“At 7 a.m. precisely we hit a magnetic mine with 2,000 to 3,000 troops on board. Ten seconds later, the second one exploded,” the 83-year-old Port Charlotte, Fla. man said. “We were off Omaha Beach when it all happened. We didn’t lose a person on board.”

The first mine hit amidships and blew a hole in the transport’s bottom. The second one went off closer to the ship’s stern.

“There were a couple of LSTs (Landing Ship, Tanks) nearby that came to our rescue. The troops aboard the Anthony went over the side on boarding nets into the waiting LSTs,” he said. “Exactly an hour and a half after the first explosion, the captain ordered us to abandon ship. The 3rd Deck Hand Division I jumped into the water and was picked up by an LST.”

Problem was, the LST that rescued Frazier and his buddies wasn’t due to return to port for a week. As a result, he and his shipmates spent the next seven days hauling troops and supplies to Omaha Beach as part of the LST’s deck crew.

“We had no problems landing troops on the beach all week long, even though the Germans were blowing up small boats all around us,” he said. “We must have lost a dozen of them.”

When Frazier and his shipmates finally returned to London, they were given a 30-day leave and sent home to the United States aboard the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth. With thousands of American servicemen aboard, the venerable ship sailed into New York Harbor in June 1944.

On his return to duty, Frazier was made an Engineman 1/C and sent aboard the USS Montauk. It was an unusual ship built for taking tanks and men to the war zone. Only seven of these ships were ever built. Each held up to 30 Sherman tanks, and the men that went in them.

Frazier and the crew of the Montauk headed for Pearl Harbor and the Pacific war. They island-hopped until they finally reached Okinawa in time for the invasion on Easter Sunday morning, April 1, 1945.

“On D-Day, we landed 30 tanks on the beach on Okinawa without much trouble from the enemy. The first week or so, there wasn’t much ground fighting until our troops moved into the hills,” he recalled. “However, kamikaze attacks began three or four days after we first hit the beach.

“The whole sky was lit up with our ships shooting at kamikazes. It was something else,” Frazier said. “After a week at Okinawa we headed back to Pearl Harbor for more troops and equipment. We spent the next two or three months transferring men and equipment to Okinawa.”

Bob Frazier of Port Charlotte, Fla. looks at a picture of himself as an 18-year old serving aboard the troop transport Susan B. Anthony in the Atlantic in World War II. Sun photo by Don Moore

After the Japanese were defeated on Okinawa during the last major island battle of WWII, the Montauk and Frazier headed back to Pearl Harbor. They were still at sea when they heard President Truman’s announcement that an atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima.

“Everyone knew it was over when the second bomb was dropped. After the surrender, we made a couple of trips from Pearl Harbor to San Francisco to bring American servicemen home for good.”

Frazier got out of the service, got married and spent decades living in Brooklyn, N.Y., with his family. He and his wife, Cora, moved to Port Charlotte in 1994.

This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Florida on Monday, April 6, 2009 and is republished with permission.

All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be republished without permission. Links are encouraged.

Click here to view the War Tales fan page on FaceBook.

Comments

  1. one of the person’s on board lives in Wi, after returning to England he then flew in to Belgium on a glider. He is 98

  2. I am Bob Muzis (Musorofiti) daughter in law-Lenore. The surviors hold a yearly reunion. This year it is held in Albany Sept 24-27 at the Best Western Soverign on Western Ave. Call John Muso at 508-561-7204 for more info.

  3. I found a mention of the SBA’s demise during the invasion, in a hand-written journal that I think is my grandfather’s. I’m only up to June 10, 1944 so far.. transcribing it into an electronic form. “Googling” for more details and finding your report on the SBA makes this an even more fascinating project. Thanks!

  4. My grandfather was on the SBA when it sunk in the channel off Normandy. His name was Raymond Andrews and I would love more details about the SBA. Thanks

  5. My father was Jim Crawford, a tall handsome red headed Sgt from WVa, and was on the SBA on D-Day. He told the story of being picked up by a French frigate and delivered on to Utah beach.
    Wish I had known about the reunions when my Dad was still alive.

  6. My uncle Henry E Westerberg was the chief engineer, who stayed with the ship until the end and he was in the water for hours. I have his portrait as a Lt Cmdr USNR, and would love to have it hung with pride somewhere any suggestions ?

  7. My father was with the 101st airborne artillery gliders was on the Susan b anthony when it hit them 2 mines he went on with the normandy invasion onto the battle of the bulge and market gardens. He was a tech corporal Harry Ray Allen from Wood River il passed away in 2010

  8. The man pictured above with Bob Frazier is my Grandfather, Clyde Hale. He passed away about 7 years ago and only spoke of his experiences one time, but it is something I will never forget. The stories were very similar to what Mr. Frazier has shared above. Thankful for these men and all who serve our country!

  9. This is the first time I brought up the demise of the Susan B Anthony, I was part of the 7th Beach Battlion, we hit the beaches of Normandy of the SBA before she went down

  10. My father was being transported aboard the SBA when it was hit by mines and sunk. He was with the 101st Airborne and was a combat engineer.

  11. My Dad Fernando Baldassari from Boston, MA. was on the Susan B. . He was on the anti-aircraft guns. Later he participated in the invasion of the Philippine Islands on the U.S.S. Estes after the Susan B. went down. He was always very proud of his service in WW11. He passed away on 1/11/2005. He raised 9 of us 7 boys and 2 girls. I am a Vietnam Veteran and also my brother, My older brother is a Korean Veteran, and another brother was in the National guard for 6 yrs. I miss him and his stories. God Bless you daddio!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s