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Museum honors foreign WWII sailors

In ceremonies next week, communities on the Outer Banks pay honor to World War II British and Canadian sailors who gave their lives to defend the coast of the United States.

The British War Grave ceremonies take place at 11 a.m. on Thursday, May 12, at the World War II British Cemetery in Buxton, and again at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 13, at the World War II British Cemetery in Ocracoke. Receptions follow both events at 1 p.m.BritishWarGraves2010

Held by the Friends of the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, the Ocracoke Community, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the National Park Service and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the ceremonies honor the 63 foreign sailors who lost their lives just off the coast of the Outer Banks.

During World War II, German U-boats hunted along the Eastern Seaboard. Unprepared for the attacks, the U.S. accepted assistance from the British Royal Navy, who helped patrol coastal waters. In April 1942, British armed tanker San Delfino was sunk by the U-203 just off Pea Island. The following month, HMT Bedfordshire was destroyed by U-558 near Ocracoke Island.

“These young men gave their lives for our country, and it seems only appropriate that we remember their service and their sacrifice,” said North Carolina Maritime Museums Director Joseph Schwarzer.

Representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy take part in the ceremony, along with Cmdr. Ian Atkins, British Embassy and Cmdr. Douglas Macdonald, Canadian Defence Liaison Staff. Cmdr. Ian Atkins, British Embassy and Cmdr. Douglas Macdonald, Canadian Defence Liaison Staff. Additionally, students from local schools will assist in the event, including: Maggie and Robbie Easley, Avery and Delaney Johnson, Joseph Chestnut, Madeleine Payne, Chante Nason and Meiraf Zekaryas.  Each graveside ceremony will also include a 21-gun salute and music from the U.S. Coast Guard Pipe Band.

Each graveside ceremony will also include a 21-gun salute and music from the U.S. Coast Guard Pipe Band.

The ceremonies and receptions are free and open to the public. For more information, call the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum at 252-986-2995.

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