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1942 HMT Bedfordshire and Ocracoke Island


In a small cemetery on Ocracoke Island in N. Carolina are buried some men from HMT Bedfordshire, killed in action in 1942.. BEDFORDSHIRE was sunk at 0540 12th May German Time (from the deck log of the U558), which of course was 11.40 pm on the 11th of May 1942 on the US East Coast

The two positively  identified bodies are those of Sub Lt Thomas Cunningham and Telegraphist Second Class Stanley Craig. 

The other two, who were washed ashore two days later, were unidentifiable and buried in Ocracoke as unknowns, assumed to have been from Bedfordshire. Subsequently there has been speculation that they may have been Charles White, age 29, a telegraphist from Lincolnshire and Frederick Barnes, Engineman RNVR born 16 May, 1911. Plaques are erected to them, but these plaques came from their families (we believe) with the hope that these were in fact their graves.

Click here for another site with more on the sinking and casualty list and thanks to that site for the pictures

This information provided by Linda a local who wanted to make sure the location of these men could be found by any relatives...

If you have an interest please contact Linda - who would love to provide pictures of the headstone etc

This page was updated May 2004 with latest information as per advice from British Embassy Naval Attaché who visits the island annually. It sure is great to hear the care and attention that the authorities give to such memorials.

Speech at the cemetery made in 2004

As I learnt from the speech there are other war dead at the cemetery 

Fourth Engineer Officer Michael Cairns of the Royal Merchant Navy served on the British Merchant vessel San Delfino 
(for more detail see

Also associated with the Bedfordshire is 1942 HMS Kingston Ceylonite (FY 214) ASW Trawler


From Linda: The old timers on the island told us that they often stood on the beach and watched (and heard) the flashes of gun fire from the ships. I am sure not many here in the US realize just how close the war came to our own shores. When the sailors' bodies washed up on Ocra Coke, the islanders created a tiny cemetery and buried the bodies.  The families of the two who were identified were given the chance to bring their boys home to England, but decided instead to let them rest in peace. 

In 1976 when British officials visited the cemetery, the state of N. Carolina presented them with an official document deeding the cemetery to the UK, so that these brave men would forever rest in British soil. There is a bronze plaque there which quotes Rupert Brooke: "If I should die think only this of me that there's some forever corner of a foreign field that is forever England." Whenever we visit to Ocra Coke, the little cemetery is the first place I go and needless to say this old softie ends up in tears each time. Perhaps someone who has been searching for these boys will finally know where they rest. I hope so. 

Someone else wrote "I read with interest the message about the British seamen buried on Ocracoke Island, N.C. I got out my trustee Nat'l Geographic map of "The Ghosts of the Outer Banks," which is what the area all along that part of our coast is known as. Sure enough at long.76º00, lat.34º30 shows that the Bedfordshire sunk there 1942. That's about 25-30 miles off Cape Lookout. More info could probably be obtained from The Mariners Museum, Newport News, VA


(please note Ron has no more information on these brave men - he just wanted to help find a place to record their place of rest)