British Cemetery Marker, Ocracoke
This memorial, a small metal marker mounted on a wooden post, commemorates the burial of the recovered bodies of British sailors who died in the sinking of the trawler the HMT Bedforshire in May of 1942 off the coast of North Carolina. The marker sits outside the white picket fence surrounding the burial plot. It honors the dead and the establishment of the cemetery, and a companion memorial to the HMT Bedfordshire sits several feet away in the cemetery garden area. The British flag flies over the site.
These gravesites contain the bodies of four British seamen. Their ship, the armed trawler HMS
Bedfordshire, was on loan to our Navy by Great Britain to help protect our shores during the early days of
World War II.
On May 11, 1942 the Bedfordshire was torpedoed and sunk by a German sub. All hands were lost and these four were the only bodies recovered. This cemetery is maintained by Ocracoke Coast Guard Station personnel.”
Ocracoke Coast Guard Station Personnel
35.116680 , -75.980790
"The sinking of HMS Bedfordshire," History Features (March 2008), BBC, (accessed February 14, 2013) Link
Branch, Paul. 2006. "British Cemetery," NCpedia, (accessed November 26, 2013) Link
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. "HMT Bedfordshire," Battle of the Atlantic Expedition, (accessed November 26, 2013) Link
National Park Service. "British Cemeteries," Cape Hatteras, (accessed November 29, 2013) Link
Wood base, metal placard lined with rope
In 1942, the British trawler, the HMT Bedfordshire, came to the United States as part of the Allied effort during World War II. While patrolling the waters of the Outer Banks for German Naval activity, the boat was torpedoed by a U-Boat on May 11, 1942, and all 37 crewmen aboard were lost. Only four bodies were recovered. They were laid to rest on Ocracoke in a tiny plot that is the smallest Commonwealth War Graves Commission grave site in the world. Coast Guard service members buried the four recovered bodies in a plot gifted by an Ocracoke family, with the subsequent addition of a fence around the plot. The burial event in 1942 was attended by a 21-gun salute.
The marker is located in front of the burial plot. The cemetery is located on British Cemetery Road and on the right when traveling north. The Wahab-Howard family Cemetery adjoins the memorial cemetery area to the north.
The memorial sits within the cemetery landscape and garden. It sits off the road, sheltered by trees and near historic homes.
Every year on the Thursday and Friday closest to May 11th, a memorial service is held by the U.S. National Park Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, and members of the British Royal Navy.