Ocracoke British Cemetery ceremony and reception. Photo by OPS.

The annual Ocracoke British Cemetery ceremony is scheduled for Friday, May 12, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. Immediately following the commemoration, attendees are invited to the Ocracoke Community Center for a light luncheon.

This year marks the 81st 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 on the grounds of the OPS Museum. 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 students from Ocracoke School.

The annual graveside ceremony traces its ties to the Ocracoke 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. 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.

Ocracoke British Cemetery ceremony and reception. Photo by OPS.

To commemorate the 81st anniversary, OPS will host an evening with historian, author, and filmmaker Kevin Duffus at the Ocracoke Community Center on Friday, May 12, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. In a special keynote multi-media program, “War Zone: When World War II was Fought off Ocracoke’s Beaches,” Duffus will share stories of the time when Ocracoke Island was on the front line of the war, when the island lost its innocence, and lives of our greatest generation were irrevocably changed.

“War Zone” is told from the perspective of everyday people who faced daunting challenges with perseverance, patriotism, and uncommon valor. Many of the interviews conducted by Duffus feature names familiar to, and beloved by, many Ocracokers – Blanche Howard Joliff, Calvin O’Neal, Ulysses Mac Womac, Blanche Stryon, and Theodore Mutro.

Donations from the public contribute to landscaping the garden area and hosting the luncheon. 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 donate online at ocracokepreservationsociety.org/donations or 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 sundaehorn@gmail.com

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


The post Ocracoke prepares for British Cemetery Commemoration; Volunteers and donations needed appeared first on Island Free Press.

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