On May 11, 1942, U-558 fired tow torpedoes at the HMS Bedfordshire, causing it to sink almost immediately. All 37 Royal Navy sailors were lost. The bodies of two of her crew were spotted in the surf off Ocracoke Island. They were buried in a small plot of ground adjacent to a local family's cemetery. A week later, two more bodies were found, but not identified, and were laid to rest next to the other two.
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.
Ocracoke's history includes German submarines right off our shores during WWII. In 1942, the Royal Navy sent 24 armed trawlers to the East Coast to aid the U.S. Navy in their anti-submarine efforts.