In June 1944, L/Cpl Oxley was a serving tank crewmember with the 2nd Battn., Northants Yeomanry, an armoured unit. The Yeomanry landed on the Normandy beachhead some time after D-Day and took part in the defence of the perimeter. At the break out, he was part of the British 2nd Army push, that rushed through France and halted along the Belgian border. The 2nd Yeomanry took quite a beating on their journey north and on Aug 20th a number of disbanded members, including L/Cpl Oxley were attached to the 1st Royal Tank Regiment which was to become part of 7th Armoured Division – the famed Desert Rats.
On the 16th September, General Montgomery’s plan to capture the bridge at Arnhem began. An armoured column from XXX Corps started out on the 64 mile long journey along a single tree lined road through flat, wet countryside that was defended by a stubborn and well-equipped foe. William Oxley and 7th Armoured Div., were under XII Corps and assigned the defence of the thrust along left flank on the drive north. The loss in men and material was substantial and on September 24 the decision to withdraw the 1st Airborne from Arnhem was taken. At this stage the fighting was intense and German 88 mm weapons took an awful toll on the thin walled Sherman tanks of 7th Armoured Div. On September 29 1944 1st, Royal Tank Regiment was situated near the Dutch town of Nisterode some 50 miles from Arnhem, when C squadron was ordered south to cut the road between Dinther and Hertogenbosch, one tank was set on fire and a second tank was hit by an accurate bazooka shell.
From his hospital card, it is certain that it was in one of these engagements that 24 year old L/ Cpl William Oxley from far away Milton Malsor lost his life.