During 1940 and 1941, he briefly commanded, in turn, destroyers Yarnall (DD 143), Claxton (DD 140), and Broome (DD 210). On 10 November 1941, he became commanding officer of Walke (DD 416); and, on 20 August 1942, he was appointed to the temporary rank of commander.
On the night of 14 and 15 November 1942, Walke was a part of Rear Admiral Willis Augustus Lee’s Task Force 64, when it encountered a large Japanese force off Savo Island attempting to bring reinforcements to Guadalcanal. Acting as the senior commander of the four destroyers of the task force, Commander Fraser boldly led them into action against the numerically superior Japanese force. The torpedoes and heavy gunfire of the Japanese vessels took a devastating toll of the American destroyers; and, shortly after midnight, Commander Fraser gave the order to abandon Walke. He was lost in the ensuing action and was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his valor and devotion to duty.