General Information

Donations sought for British Cemetery Ceremony

Wreaths honor the WWII fallen during the British Cemetery Ceremony. This year’s event will be May 10. Photo: C. Leinbach

The British Cemetery ceremony and reception, scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, May 10, 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 German U-boats, 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 77th commemoration of the four British World War II soldiers buried in the small plot along British Cemetery Road.

While the Ocracoke Occupancy Tax Board grants money for the event, 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 afterwards in the Berkley Barn.

For information and to help, call local organizer Crystal Canterbury at 252-588-2245, or send an email to crystalcurrentlee@yahoo.com.

The Ocracoke ceremony traces its ties to island families back to May 1942.

Since then, Ocracoke has remembered the four British sailors whose bodies washed ashore after a U-boat torpedoed the Bedforshire, a British trawler pressed into military service to ferry supplies to the British war ships.

Two of the sailors were identified: Sub Lieutenant Thomas Cunningham and Ordinary Telegraphist Second Class Stanley Craig.

Ocracoke islanders rallied and donated land on which the four are interred and which is now owned by Great Britain.

Four other British sailors are interred in a second cemetery in Buxton. They will be remembered the day before the Ocracoke event.  These are the only WWII British cemeteries in the United States.

These remembrances of the men who made the ultimate sacrifice are conducted under the auspices of the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Park Service and the Ocracoke Civic & Business Association.