You are here

5 Nov 2015
Related Items: 
History

2016 Ocracoke British Cemetery Ceremony Friday, May 13th at 11:00

During World War II, German U-boats traveled along the Eastern Seaboard. The United States accepted assistance from the British Royal Navy, who helped patrol coastal waters.

In May 1942, HMS Bedfordshire was destroyed by German submarine U-558 near Ocracoke Island. The bodies of Sub-Lieutenant Cunningham and Ordinary Telegraphist Second Class Craig were found in the surf off Ocracoke Island and buried with appropriate military honors on Ocracoke.

A week later, two more bodies were found in the ocean north of Ocracoke. These men, although never identified, were assumed to have come from the Bedfordshire, and were interred alongside their shipmates in what would become the Ocracoke British Cemetery.

For 73 years, two ceremonies have been held to honor the sacrifices of 63 foreign sailors who gave their lives protecting the coast of the United States during World War II. In remembrance, representatives of the U.S. Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary, US Navy, Canadian Navy, British Royal Navy and National Park Service, join visitors and residents at the British gravesites on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.

The day before the Ocracoke ceremony, the Buxton ceremony will be held on May 12th to honor the service of the men who lost their lives April 1942 when the British armed tanker San Delfino was sunk by the U-203. Two of the men are buried at the British Cemetery in Buxton, Fourth Engineer Officer Michael Cairns of the Royal Merchant Navy from the San Delfino and an unknown soldier.

The ceremonies are organized by the Friends of the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, the Ocracoke community, the U.S. Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary 16-04, the National Park Service, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, students from the Cape Hatteras Secondary School of Coastal Studies and the Ocracoke School as well as the Ocracoke Boy Scout troop. The ceremonies are open to the public. For more information, call the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum at (252) 986-2995.