During World War II, German U-boats prowled the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, wreaking havoc along North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The US Navy couldn’t stop the attacks, so Britain sent 24 Royal Navy vessels to help. One of those ships, the HMS Bedfordshire, was lost to a German torpedo, and its entire 34-man crew died. Five bodies were later recovered, and were buried along with other British casualties at British cemeteries on Hatteras Island and Ocracoke. Both of these North Carolina cemeteries are leased in perpetuity to the War Graves Commission, which technically makes them British soil.
Fields that are forever England:
- From 1942 to 1945, German U-boats sank more than 400 ships and killed 5,000 sailors in an offensive that German sailors referred to as "the Great American Turkey Shoot."
- The US Coast Guard maintains the Ocracoke British Cemetery, while the Buxton British Cemetery is tended by the National Park Service.
- Every 12 May, the sinking of the Bedfordshire is commemorated. Royal Navy sailors lay wreaths, and local villagers read out the names of the dead in the Gaelic-derived brogue of Ocracoke Island.