Cape Hatteras National Seashore | BRITISH CEMETERY

British Cemetery near the Hatteras Island Visitor Center

British Cemetery near the Hatteras Island Visitor Center

Two British cemeteries are located on the islands that form Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The larger of the two is in the town of Ocracoke and is maintained by the U. S. Coast Guard; it is not part of the National Seashore. A smaller cemetery with two graves is located within the park at the southern end of Hatteras Island just past the Buxton Woods picnic area on Lighthouse Road.

In the early years of World War II, the U. S. did not have any ships that were effective against stopping the German U-Boats that preyed on all types of ships traveling along the east coast of the United States. To assist with this problem, England sent 24 Royal Navy vessels across the Atlantic. Those now buried in the British cemeteries are crew members who were killed while patrolling the Outer Banks.

Most of the men buried on the islands died during the sinking of the HMS Bedfordshire on May 12, 1942. Thirty-four men were killed, most never found. Four bodies washed up on Ocracoke Island, and the townspeople buried them in what is now the Ocracoke British Cemetery. One unknown sailor washed up on Hatteras Island and is believed to have been from the Bedfordshire. He was buried at the site where sailor Michael Cairns from the British merchant vessel San Delfino had been buried two weeks earlier. Cairns had also washed up on the shores of Hatteras Island.

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Last updated on March 25, 2020
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