The Account of William J.
The USS Susan B Anthony and her gallant crew ending off the coast
of Normandy have become major topics of discussion. Jay’s first
impression after boarding her was: This crew has a comfortable way
in which to go to war. There was none of the silliness of 15 mile
marches, in the rain and mud, or on hot dusty roads, or of living
in the open and sleeping in pup tents while conducting service practice
on the artillery range at Salisbury Plain.
The food was wonderful. They received only two but good meals a
day. while the crew was eating three squares of that good food.
Still, Jay had no complaint when Jay recalled the two meals a day
Jay had eaten--sometimes on the Queen Mary in June of 1943. Most
of the battalion came over in November 43 Any American who crossed
the Atlantic on an English ship probably has similar memories of
Jay had crossed over on the Queen which took only 3 or 4 days while
the battalion crossed over on some English tub that took forever
and the food was just bad. Then there was, wonder of wonders, the
ship's store . Compared to the small PX our battalion had, this
was the big PX in the sky. You could buy all the candy bars you
could carry. Life was good but Jay knew it had to end soon. On D+1,
The Susan B struck a mine. Jay never felt so much power. This was
no small vessel on which they were sailing. Nonetheless, the power
of the mine rocked the ship for several seconds. They were ordered
onto the boat deck and in a few minutes Jay saw some seamen with
dressings on their heads. They had been below when we hit a mine
and had been injured.
Apparently we had lost communication with the flag ship because
when a destroyer escort with a salvage officer on board came alongside,
the captain of the stricken converted passenger ship conducted a
discussion with that officer by means of a loud hailer. The captain
proposed beaching his ship with the aid of tug(s). No way that he
wanted to lose his command. The salvage officer conferred with the
flagship and gave the captain the bad news that there were no tugs
available to save his ship and that he should get his passengers
and crew over the side and abandon ship. The captain was not too
happy. Obedient, yes, but not happy.
Some rescue vessels, including His Majesty's destroyer, escorts
were alongside, and over the side they went. The sea was running
at two feet. This meant the cargo nets, down which they climbed,
did not reach the DEs at all times. It was therefore necessary to
make a quick calculation and then jump. There were no casualties
When they pulled away from the Susan B, Jay was surprised at how
far into the water she had settled in two hours. It seemed as those
who were still waiting to leave the ship were just a few feet above
the water line. Nevertheless, everyone left the ship safely. Soon
after the last man left her, the Susan B plunged into the cold waters
of the English Channel.
The crew of their DE treated them well. They gave them cigarettes
and a meal. The food reminded Jay of the food on the Queen Mary
and was the precursor of the food they would have in the Netherlands
as part of the British Second Army three months hence. His Majesty's
hospitality had to end, they went over the side once more, this
time onto a United States Navy LCL. This was very crowded, so crowded
in fact that a few of them climbed over the side of the boat and
sat on a narrow ledge of the LCL with the water just inches away.
In a short while a German fighter streaked across the beach strafing
it. These were the first shots Jay had heard fired in anger. This
made Jay uncomfortable and he climbed back over the side onto the
crowded deck . Before, Jay could do this, however, two United States
fighters came out of the sun and jumped the German. Jay last saw
him headed inland smoking and losing altitude. Jay remembers nothing
of their landing on Utah except that despite General Taylor's exhortations
in the marshaling area, Jay did not call out, "Bill Lee." He learned
long ago not to insist that his memory is more accurate per date
of sinking than when some one else has a different recollection
The Account of Norman Maine :
Norm agrees with all Jay Stone says about the Susan B Anthony. Norm’s
head hit hard a beam on the steel roof over his bunk. He figured
his head was harder than the beam. Lights went out so they couldn't
see if there was a dent in beam. But his head required no bandaging
and got none. By the time Norm was off loaded he used no net just
stepped over to the boat that was going to take them away. Rough
seas. Fellow behind gave Norm a push as he thought Norm was going
down between the two boats. Beach was policed up so it was D plus
1 or 2. Rearmed ourselves from the material left on the beach.
The Account of John Nasea,
For D-Day, the battalion was told to waterproof their cannon, jeep,
etc. They were going by boat. Most of the battalion personnel were
assigned to the Susan B Anthony but John was assigned to the John
S Mosby. Who was he with?
He turned to some one, a Cpl. or Sgt, and remarked that the Mosby
was being loaded with the unloading chart. The pea shooters (75
mm howitzers) were loaded down in the hold while the 6 by 6s were
loaded up on deck. That some one just shrugged his shoulders as
if to say, "What can I do about it?"
Some where in the channel, John was run by a sand table to show
him & others where they would be disembarking. In two minutes, they
were supposed to know where they were to be. Sure!
Finally, the day dawned, the navy was firing their big guns and
they just sat there watching the show. Lt. Fred King claims that
he saw the Susie hitting the mine and going down. John may have
but the memory is very dim. They just sat there! They had the guns.
According to the original Mission Accomplished, on the morning of
June 9th a small boat pulled along side to find out who they were
and were told that they had been looking for them for two days.
First they had to off load those 6 by 6s, then they went down in
the hold for the pea shooters. By then it was late afternoon and
drizzly. Just as John was given orders to go over the side, Jerry
came in shooting up the place. John climbed over on to the rope
ladder which was swaying back and forth. The separation between
the ship and the landing craft would get smaller and larger, ocean
Mrs. Nasea’s little boy Johnny was twixt and tween but Jerry finally
went home and he finally got onto the landing craft. The landing
was uneventful and he spent the night, on the beach which by this
time was swept clean, a lonely damp and cold boy. The next night
he was assigned with several others whom he barely knew to an out
post on guard. “Did some one out there call “Halt?”” It was the
Red Ball Express. Boy, did they do a job.
John Nasea, Jr
These memoirs are published
with the authorization of John Nasea, Jr as parts of his report
FIREPOWER by John Nasea, Jr & Al Nolime Tangere
101st Airborne Division
Normandy - Holland - Bastogne - Southern Germany - Vietnam
Volume 85, 2nd edition, February 1999
Voices of the 321st Glider Field Artillery Battalion Association