During World War II, German submarines lurked right off Ocracoke Island’s shores. In 1942, the British Royal Navy sent 24 armed trawlers to assist the U.S. Navy in defending our coastline.
On May 11 of that year, German U-558 torpedoed one of those trawlers, the HMT Bedfordshire, killing all 37 members of the British and Canadian Royal Navies aboard. Only four bodies were ever recovered as they washed ashore on Ocracoke Island. Though far from home, they were given a proper burial in a small plot of land donated by Ocracokers, which flies the national flag of the United Kingdom and is recognized as being “forever England.”
Each May, a ceremony and reception is held here commemorating the sinking of the HMT Bedfordshire and honoring the four sailors interred here. Representatives from the US Coast Guard, US Navy, British Royal Navy, and Canadian Royal Navy participate in the ceremony, which includes a reading of the crew list, the playing of bagpipes, and a 21-gun salute.