Monday, December 7, 2015

Extraterritorial Graveyards: Graveyards in Foreign Countries Owned by Another Country

We've made mention in this space before about the American Battle Monuments Commission which maintains cemeteries and memorials overseas, usuch as that at Epinal, France, where my cousin Chaarles T. Bowie lies in repose. The ABMC oversees sites in 16 foreign countries and the UK Dependency of Gibraltar.  (The ABMC also has  four sites within the United States – can you name one?).

But did you know that there are several foreign owned cemeteries and memorials in the United States itself?

Two cemeteries on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, United States, one on Ocracoke Island and one on Hatteras Island in the town of Buxton, are owned by the United Kingdom. Both contain the graves of British seamen whose bodies washed ashore after German U-Boat attacks that occurred on 10 April 1942 against the San Delfino  and 11 May 1942 against (HMT Bedfordshire). Although thirty-eight souls were lost aboard the Bedfordshire, only five bodies were recovered. Four graves are at Ocracoke and two at Buxton; three of the bodies were never identified; one of them could be that of a Canadian seaman. The plot of land at Ocracoke "has been forever ceded to England" and is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. The plot was leased to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for as long as the land remained a cemetery. The graves on Hatteras Island are maintained by the U.S. National Park Service. Ironically, this portion of the Outer Banks is where the pirate Blackbeard was killed by British forces in 1718.

 The Captain Cook Monument at Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii, and about 25 square feet (2.3 m2) of land around it, the place where James Cook was killed in 1779, is owned by the United Kingdom. An historian on the occasion of the monument's 50th anniversary recorded in 1928 that the white stone "obelisk monument [was] erected to the memory of Captain Cook, about 1876, and on land deeded outright to the British Government by Princess Likelike, sister of King Kalakaua, about the same year, so that that square is absolute British Territory." Hawaii was a sovereign nation at the time. According to a 2011 article by John M. MacFarland, "The land under the monument was deeded to the United Kingdom in 1877 and is considered as sovereign non-embassy land owned by the British Embassy in Washington DC. ... the Hawaiian State Parks agency maintained that as sovereign British territory it was the responsibility of the UK to maintain the site."

Captain Cook Monument owned by the United Kingdom in Hawaii

Quiz Answer: the newest ABMC-constructed site in the United States is the World War II Memorial.

Thanks to Wikipedia for special material.


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