The graves at the British Cemetery on Ocracoke. Photo: C. Leinbach

The British Cemetery ceremony and reception, scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, May 11, is seeking donations to help with landscaping the grave sites and providing food for the reception.

This ceremony, organized by the War Graves Committee on Hatteras, remembers the sinking by a German U-boat of the HMT Bedfordshire, a British trawler, off the coast here May 11, 1942.  For six months, the U-boat brigade torpedoed allied convoys off the Outer Banks. 

This will be the 76th commemoration of the four British World War II soldiers buried in the small plot of British land along British Cemetery Road.

Representatives from the British Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy will be in attendance, as well as members of the United States Coast Guard, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and seniors from Ocracoke School.

The Ocracoke ceremony can trace its ties to island families back to May 1942. The British Cemetery site has meant a lot to the people of Ocracoke and has also become an important stop for visitors.   As one stands at these gravesites, one begins to understand the kindness and respect people have shown for the men who died so far from home. The Ocracoke community has continued to help care for the gravesites, memorial and to honor these British sailors.

While the Ocracoke Occupancy Tax Board grants money to cover the cost of the cemetery plantings and the reception afterwards, this does not cover the total cost.

To donate, send checks by April 30 to OCBA, P.O. Box 456, Ocracoke, NC 27960. Please note “British Cemetery Ceremony” in the memo line.

Volunteers also are needed to help at the reception at the Ocracoke Community Center following the ceremony.

For information, call Crystal Canterbury at 252-588-2245, or send an email to

British Cemetery Ceremony: A final salute. This year’s event will be Friday, May 11. Photo by P. Vankevich
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