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Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    British Cemetery Marker, Ocracoke

  • Type


  • Subjects

    World War II

  • City


  • County


  • Description

    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.

    Plaque | Four tombstones |

  • Inscription

    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.

  • Custodian

    Ocracoke Coast Guard Station

  • Dedication Date


  • Decade


  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.116680 , -75.980790 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      "British Cemetery," in "CoastalGuide: Travel and Real Estate Information for the coastal Carolinas," (accessed January 22, 2014) Link

      "The Sinking Of The H.M.T. Bedfordshire," IPS Community Forums, (accessed January 22, 2014) Link

      "The sinking of HMS Bedfordshire," History Features (March 2008), BBC, (accessed February 14, 2013) Link

      Branch, Paul. 2006. "British Cemetery,", (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

  • Public Site


  • Materials & Techniques

    Wood base, metal placard lined with rope

  • Subject Notes

    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 thirty-seven crewmen aboard were lost. Only four bodies were recovered. They were laid to rest on Ocracoke in a tiny plot considered 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.

  • Location

    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.

  • Landscape

    The memorial sits within the cemetery landscape and garden. It sits off the road, sheltered by trees and near historic homes.

  • Death Space


  • Post Dedication Use

    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.

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