85. “Forever England”… The Ocracoke British Cemetery

By: jpusel

As you stroll the streets of Ocracoke, you might be surprised to find a small sign showing you the way to the Ocracoke British Cemetery.  Not far from downtown Ocracoke, nestled amid the historic homes, a British naval flag flies over this small plot of land, which is leased to the British government so long as the sailors rest there.  Don’t miss this simple reminder of the young men who gave their lives so far from home.

During the spring of 1942, following the entry of the United States into World War II, German U-Boats were sinking a ship a day. The U.S. was ill prepared to guard the 2500 mile eastern coast so England sent warships to help patrol the Mid-Atlantic States. One of the vessels assigned to guard the Outer Banks was the HMS Bedfordshire, a converted trawler.

It is believed that during the night of May 11, 1942, while escorting some merchant ships to Hatteras, the HMS Bedfordshire was torpedoed with all hands lost. Several bodies washed ashore and were buried in a small plot in Ocracoke by villagers. The plot was leased to the British after the war, and the British flag still flies over the cemetery today. The plaque fronting the cemetery quotes Poet Rupert Brooke.

“If I should die think only this of me
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England.”