This year’s British Cemetery Ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, May 13, either inside or out, TBD. Photo: C. Leinbach

By Connie Leinbach

A scaled-back British Cemetery Ceremony will go on Friday at 11 a.m. and while the preferred location is at the cemetery itself, it may be moved indoors at the last minute.

Sundae Horn, event coordinator, said she will meet with Lt. Christopher Fisher of the U.S. Coast Guard station in Hatteras, this afternoon to discuss the situation.

Although the hope is that this 80th anniversary remembrance can occur at the cemetery along British Cemetery Road, the rain location will be in the Ocracoke School gym, but that has not yet been decided.

“We may decide that at 9 a.m. tomorrow,” Horn said, “but we are definitely having the ceremony.”

The weather forecast for Friday, though not as severe as the last several days, calls for a 40% chance of thunderstorms in the morning.

Wherever the remembrance is held, a luncheon reception in the Ocracoke Community Center will follow the ceremony and all are invited.

Some of the groups that have attended this ceremony in the past, representatives from the British Royal Navy and the Canadian embassy, the Coast Guard Auxiliary bagpipers, the Royal Tot Club, and the American Legion Riders had to cancel their attendance.

This annual event remembers the sinking of H.M.T. Bedfordshire, a British trawler, during World War II off the North Carolina coast on May 11, 1942, and which has been held every year since except for 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following that sinking, the bodies of four British sailors washed up on Ocracoke. They are interred in the British Cemetery, a small patch of England, along British Cemetery Road.

Sub-Lt. Thomas Cunningham and Ordinary Telegraphist Second Class Stanley Craig were the only ones identified of the four sailors interred here. The Bedfordshire was part of the Royal Navy Patrol Service (RNPS), one of 24 trawlers the British government pressed into the Patrol as advance-guard mine sweepers and escorts for British supply ships. Representatives of the RNPS also attend the memorial each year.

The change in plans was prompted by the low-pressure system that has been stalled off the coast since Sunday.

The system brought high winds that have suspended ferry service since Sunday, also prompting the postponement of a talk by historian Kevin Duffus, author of “War Zone,” about World War II on the Outer Banks.

He will present his talk, “War Zone: When World War II Was Fought off Ocracoke’s Beaches,” which includes video interviews with several now-deceased Ocracokers about life on Ocracoke during that time, sometime this summer on a date to be determined.

Resulting high surf from the nor’easter breached the dunes in several areas on Hatteras Island closing N.C. 12 South. NCDOT said today that the highway will open at noon today but there’s still a possibility that the 5:15 pm high tide may require another closure if major over wash occurs.

The Ocracoke Preservation Society sponsors the event with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Coast Guard Auxiliary,and the Friends of the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.

The ceremony scheduled for today in Buxton at their British cemetery was canceled.

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