Do You Know There’s A Small Patch Of British Land In USA’s North Carolina’s Outer Banks?

by Tejashee Kashyap
Do You Know There’s A Small Patch Of British Land In USA’s North Carolina’s Outer Banks?

Nestled within the serene beauty of North Carolina’s Outer Banks lies a peculiar and captivating pocket of Britain. This intriguing cultural anomaly is not the result of time travel or a glitch in the matrix. The phenomenon of a British land presence in the USA’s Outer Banks is a fascinating historical narrative that spans centuries.

A Historical Perspective


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Despite having rural North Carolina on all sides, it is still a tiny piece of British soil. Today’s tourists can enjoy the tranquil and gorgeous Outer Banks barrier islands as a backdrop. It’s hard to imagine that this area of the water was once a naval cemetery just 70 years ago. German U-boats skulked off the Carolinas from 1942 to 1945, wrecking more than 400 ships and taking 5,000 lives in an offensive known to German sailors as the “Great American Turkey Shoot.”

Back then, the British Royal Navy sent 24 ships to protect shipping along the eastern seaboard because the United States lacked an anti-submarine patrol. The HMS Bedfordshire was sunk by a German torpedo on May 12, 1942, killing every person on board. Four British seamen whose remains had washed ashore were buried by the residents of Ocracoke, the tiny Outer Banks island where Blackbeard the pirate had died in 1718.

Over 350,000 new headstones were subsequently erected throughout continental Europe and other parts of the world by Britain’s Commonwealth War Graves Commission after the war, which started by constructing cemeteries for the nation’s war dead who had perished abroad. The War Graves Commission was given a perpetual lease of the two temporary grave sites in North Carolina, making them effectively British soil.

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Cemetery On Ocracoke Island

The National Park Service looks after the cemetery on Hatteras Island, while the U.S. Coast Guard takes care of Ocracoke Island. A mournful graveside service is held on May 12 to remember the Bedfordshire’s sinking. While local residents read the names of the deceased in the distinctively Gaelic-derived accent of Ocracoke Island, servicemen from the Royal Navy placed wreaths on the graves.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which manages and maintains every burial of a soldier who died in either of the two World Wars, was given a lease on the property. This memorial and burial in North Carolina will always be regarded as British soil because it was given “in perpetuity.”

More About The British Land In USA


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The island is approximately 16 miles (26 kilometres) long and ranges from about half a mile to a mile wide. Ocracoke Island is accessible by ferry or private boat. There is no bridge directly connecting it to the mainland. The most common way to reach the island is by taking the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry from Hatteras Island or the Swan Quarter-Ocracoke ferry from the mainland.

Now, it is a popular tourist destination, especially during the summer months. Visitors come for the beaches, wildlife viewing, water activities, and to experience the island’s unique atmosphere. It is a destination that appeals to those seeking a quieter, more remote coastal experience.

What do you think of this unique British land in USA?

Cover image credits: Canva

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