This event is organized by the Friends of the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, the Ocracoke community, the U.S. Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary 16-04, the National Park Service, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
In 1942, the Royal Navy sent 24 armed trawlers to the East Coast to aid the U.S. Navy in their anti-submarine efforts.
On May 11, 1942, U-558 fired torpedoes at the HMS Bedfordshire, causing it to sink. All 37 Royal Navy sailors were lost. The bodies of two of the crew were spotted in the surf off Ocracoke Island. Sub-Lieutenant Thomas Cunningham and Ordinary Telegraphist Second Class Craig are buried at the Ocracoke British Cemetery. Two bodies also were found in the ocean north of Ocracoke, and although never identified, were assumed to have come from the Bedfordshire, and were interred alongside their shipmates in the Ocracoke British Cemetery.
The small cemetery, its grounds kept beautifully landscaped and manicured by the U.S. Coast Guard, perpetually flies a British flag provided each year by England. Each May, the USCG and representatives from the British and Canadian Royal Navies hold a ceremony to honor the sailors.
Residents and visitors are invited to pay tribute to the sailors from the HMS Bedfordshire.