INDIANAPOLIS COAST GUARDSMAN HAS THREE SHIPS SHOT OUT FROM UNDER
Official reports show that the Coast Guard LCI(L) 85 had to nose her way with the Indianapolis lad aboard through unexploded mines being hit six times by German 88s and machine gun fire to get some yards off the beach. Oxley volunteered to swim the man rope ashore so the soldiers could pull themselves to the beach head.
Oxley said, "I swam the line ashore. Machine gun bullets were dropping around me like rain. I stood on the shore holding the man rope. As four soldiers were coming down the ramp an 88 shell blow the rampway. From then on thirty-six soldiers came over the side."
They started pulling themselves toward the shore through the withering fire. Oxley said, "only six made it."
The ship then pulled off because her stern anchor winch had been blown off by 88 millimeters, and was drifting. Batteries firing at point blank range a few hundred yards away put shells through the wheelhouse, chewing the clothes off Chief Quartermaster Charles C. McWhirter, giving him only a fingernail-like scratch on his back. The vessel, blown to a shambles and gutted with fire was sunk a short time later.
Oxley, left' on the beach, dug a foxholes along with the surviving soldiers. The beach head at that point was only about 15 yards deep. "The tide came in" Oxley said, "and forced us out of our shallow foxholes." "It pushed us too high and Nazi snipers got a lot of the soldiers".
I had to crawl on my belly" Oxley continued "and then run for it." "When I first jumped out of the hole they started spraying machine gun fire at me."
"I finally got aboard an LCT and they started firing at it. They sunk it with 88s, so I was on the beach again".
Oxley told how the Coast Guard LCI 93 came in about 150 yards down the beach. He finally made, it running through small arms fire. The Coast Guard craft, already suffering from several shell hits, put out for another load of troops with Oxley aboard.
The LCI(L) 93 received her cargo of troops and threaded her way back to the beach head through unexploded "terror" mines. Oxley, who had already survived two sinking vessels said to a crewman of the 93, "I think I'm a jinx!" Just then the Germans got the range again. The Nazi batteries whizzed two through the wheel house, landed two on the starboard box, put a shell in the troop officers quarters and riddled the port side with 155mm shells.
By that time Oxley had left the sunken craft and was on the beach again surrounded with German fire. Oxley remarked, "I lay there in a foxhole from 3 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. It was Hell. Dead soldiers all over the beach. The destroyer USS DOYLE sent in a boat to pick us up but she couldn't take us all. I waited till the last trip."
"The back of my trousers was shot off sometime while I was running on the beach," Oxley remarked. "I was pretty scared but I guess that was natural. I stayed over in France three days and sweated out the air raids. When I got back to England I found the guys all thought I was dead. I guess I was just lucky!"