Press Release
British Cemetery Event Set for May 8
Ocracoke community to commemorate sinking of H.M.T. Bedfordshire.

Ocracoke Preservation Society seeks donations and volunteers for the 2020 British Cemetery commemoration.

Ocracoke, North Carolina – March 3, 2020 – The annual Ocracoke British Cemetery ceremony and reception are scheduled for Friday, May 8, 2020 at 11am. 

This year marks the 78th anniversary of the sinking of H.M.T. Bedfordshire off the North Carolina coast on May 11, 1942. All are welcome to attend the graveside memorial ceremony and reception that follows at the Berkley Barn. Representatives from the British Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy will be in attendance, as well as members of the United States Coast Guard, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and seniors from Ocracoke School.

The Ocracoke ceremony can trace its ties to the community back to May 1942, when an island family donated the land for the cemetery and honored the men with a burial service. The British Cemetery site continues to resonate with island residents for its historical significance, and it has also become an important stop for visitors to pay their respects. Standing at these gravesites, one can appreciate the kindness and respect people have shown for the men who died so far from home. The Ocracoke community, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and the Friends of the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum have worked together to care for the gravesites and honor these British sailors each year since 1942.

Donations from the public contribute to landscaping the garden area, maintaining the original crosses and memorial, and providing food for the reception. The U.S. Coast Guard, aided by local and visiting volunteers, provides the physical labor at the site, overseen by a local representative of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. An Ocracoke restaurant caters the luncheon, which is served by community volunteers.

Businesses, residents, and visitors are encouraged to make a donation to help support this event. Please make checks payable to Ocracoke Preservation Society with “British Cemetery” in the memo line and mail to: OPS, Box 1240, Ocracoke, NC 27960

OPS is also seeking volunteers for the reception. For more information, contact Sundae Horn at (252) 921-0283 or

The British Cemetery commemoration is sponsored by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Ocracoke Occupancy Tax Board, and Ocracoke Preservation Society, a 501c-3 non-profit, community-based organization dedicated to the preservation of Ocracoke Island’s rich historical and cultural heritage.