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.

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  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 ?

    • I tried emailing you from our Albany visit but it bounced to tell you about this year in Rochester NY Oct 21-24.

  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!

    • Your Dad and my Grandfather Dad. 🙂 … hit that mine in the English channel as they were positioned there to stop the Nazi advance in France/the Unite Kingdom. All of that generation were heroes in my book. I only wish we had Patriotic American Warriors like them to fight against the forces of darkness ravaging our world today. Here’s to you Grandpa and you Dad for your service. I love you both dearly! To the future… Go with God for without Him, we are doomed already!

      • Steven- i am thrilled to see you respond. We just held our yearly reunion in Oct this time in Rochester NY home of Susie B. Our next years reunion GOD willing will be in New Orleans to visit the WWll museum.

        I live in Hudson MA. There are two other families from the Susie B who live in NE.

      • Hi Lenore! I am Paul Baldassari the son of Fred Baldassari a disabled Vietnam vet myself and that was my love of my life son Steven making his comments about the Susan B. . We both no longer live in Massachusetts but in Florida. God Bless all those who served and gave the ultimate sacrafice their own lives for our freedom! All to soon forgotten by these people in our nation who are trying to trample over all the work our previous generations fought for and gave their lives for to preserve our once great nation! They don’t care and they spit on their graves and the graves of our forfathers and founding fathers. But, I don’t trust in them or anything else, I trust in the one who made me ALMIGHTY GOD who healed me of agent orange cancer 22 years ago when they gave me only 6 months to live and took all my ptsd and pain! If your ask Jesus in your heart and be sincere HE will show you that HE is the way, the truth and the life and that no person comes to the Father but through Him! God Bless you and Merry Christmas

      • To All who have responded to this chain on stories of your heros onboard the Susie B. Please join our Facebook page- USS Susan B Anthony and USS Mona Island. We would love to hear your stories.

  12. My father was on the Susan B. ANthony too. This is Memorial Day here in the states. If it wasn;t for the fellows who pulled up TO A BURNING SHIP and rescued the men, I’d be at a Memorial Day service.

    • My father also was on the USS B Anthony when it sanked off the coast of Normandy he was with the 10st Airborne that saw action not only on Normandy but the battle of the bulge with the 101st Airborne artillery
      I served in the army in Vietnam with the 1st infantry division and ranned over the land mine mob 68 and still carrying shrapnel in my left leg

      • Please request to join the USS Susan B Anthony and Mona Island Facebook Page. We would love all to post their stories.

  13. There is a video from I think pbs. They had a show once and on that show was 1 show called “What ever happened to the Susan B. Anthony”. I have it saved on my computer if anyone wants it. My Dad was on that ship. After sinking at Normandy he was shipped to England then went out to the invasion of the Phillipine Islands. He was in four major invasions total. He had severe PTSD. I an a 101st airborne disabled Vietnam Veteran and had PTSD and Agent Orange Cancer servivor. They gave me 6 montys to live back in 1999 but GOD had other plans for me! My Brother also is a Vietnam Veteran. TY all for your service and welcome home!

    • I think my uncle was on SBA. His name was Calvin Clark Zane. I would love to see the video. I never got to know him because he died in a motorcycle accident in 1948 when I was 2 yrs old.

    • The Deep Sea Detectives did a story of the sinking of Susie B after interviewing some of the remaining men back about 12 years ago. It is Called Troops Lost at Sea by the History Channel and was available to purchase thru Amazon. Sadly, I dont believe they are still available.

    • I would LOVE to have a copy of that. I just recently found that my father was aboard. His name was Lou DiNicola from Jersey City NJ. Please let me know how I can purchase.

  14. My name is Randy Zempel serving currently 7/19/21 as chaplain at the Minnesota Silver Bay Veterans Home. I am ministering to Wyllis (Willy) Olson who was on the Susan B Anthony. He is still with us and has shared many WW2 stories including the day she sank. He describes how his body was lifted up in the air when it hit the mine and came crashing down on the deck along with four other men. They all miraculously survived. The angels were there and Willy is now a saved man soon headed home to glory. Praise the Lord!

    • My father was on it also sever battle of the bulge 101st airborne artillery he told me it knocked him 10 feet in the air Harry Ray Allen passed away 2010

  15. Just came across this comments this evening- our Susie B Anthony Reunion will be held this year Oct 21-24 in Rochester NY> The plan was to go last year for her 200th birthday and the 100th year celebration of Womens Suffragate but due to covid it was postoponed to this year.

  16. We continue to hold our annual Susie B Reunions. Sadly all our men are now gone.This year children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will gather in Rochester NY Oct 21-24 to hug and tell stories of our great heros-The Greatest Generation!

  17. Dear All, i’m Vincent Orrière from France and do researches about 90th Infantry Division. I’m looking for any memories, veterans from 2nd Battalion/359th Infantry Regiment/90th Infantry Division who were on the Susan B. Anthony on June 7th, 1944. my email : Thank you so much in advance.

  18. Our USS Susan B Anthony and USS Mona Island will be held Septemeber 22-25 2022 in New Orleans. Sadly all our heros are no longer with us – but our families will meet again in honor of these men.

  19. My dad saw the SBA hit the mine. His ship HMS Narborough was escorting SBA down the channel. He had just finished watch as a coder and stood watching from the deck as they moved down past the beaches. He watched HMS Belfast firing its big guns. He had an amazing view of of the fighting. He then saw SBA hit the mine and blow up. His ship immediately came alongside and as my dad was on deck was in charge of men jumping onto his ship. He gave the orders to jump. He was 19. Once on board he then he gave orders for men to jump onto HMS Rupert that came alongside his ship. On other side USS Pinto tug boat was doing same. HMS Mendip came next to Pinto and men jumped from ship to ship that side. I have picture of all of ships alongside the burning SBA.

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