Kenneth High Pegg was born 5th April 1891 at Danes Hill House, Hinckley Road, and baptised at St Martin’s on 11th May. His father was Abraham Pegg (1846-1892), an elastic web manufacture, and his mother Anne Elizabeth Hextall (1857-1924). They married in Islington in 1881. Together Abraham and Anne had four children – William Geoffrey (1884-1937), Annie Gertrude (1882-1969), Kathleen Mary (1886-1946) and Kenneth Hugh (1891-1916), all baptised at St Martin’s. They lived in comfort at Danes Hill House, which had eight bedrooms, stables, dovecote and large gardens.
Abraham was a sidesman at St Martin’s from at least 1882 until he died on 11th May 1892, leaving a fortune of £35,000 to his wife and four children in a will made a fortnight earlier. He was buried at Welford Road Cemetery. Kenneth would not have remembered his father as he was only a year old when Abraham died. Two years later in 1894 Anne Elizabeth remarried very quietly, to the Reverend Samuel John Woodhouse Sanders (1846-1915), who had been an honorary canon of Peterborough since 1890 and vicar of St Martin’s since 1893. Danes Hill House was sold soon after the wedding breakfast and the proceeds held on trust for the children. Therefore for most of his childhood, Samuel
Sanders was Kenneth’s stepfather and St Martin’s vicarage (at number 1 St Martin’s East) was his home. Samuel Sanders had five children from his first marriage to Roberta Henrietta Douet (1852-1891), who died after giving birth to their son Henry Launcelot Sanders (1891-1911). All of these children became Kenneth’s step siblings and some he shared a home with.
Canon Sanders left St Martin’s in 1909 and became Vicar of Rothley, so Rothley Vicarage – a typical large vicarage of more than seventeen rooms – became Kenneth’s new home.
Kenneth, who had brown hair and blue eyes, first attended Stoneygate School and was then sent to board at Malvern College, where he was a member of the Officers Training Corps for five years. After school, he returned to Rothley vicarage as a land agent’s pupil. The atmosphere at home may have been difficult at times as Canon Sanders was not altogether happy at Rothley – nor were his parishioners always happy. Some time between 1911 and 1914 – by now 5’11” tall and with a scar on his right knee – Kenneth moved to Canada, where he worked as an estate agent.
Kenneth enlisted at Valcartier as a private soldier in the Canadian Army Service Corps on 23rd September 1914. He was commissioned Second Lieutenant on probation in the 3rd Battalion Leicestershire Regiment on 30th December 1914 and confirmed in rank on 7th June 1915, when he had been in France for a couple of months, having landed on 22nd March 1915 (attached to the 2nd Battalion). Shortly before departing England Kenneth made a will leaving everything to his two sisters and his brother, with the interest on his capital going to his mother during her lifetime. His stepfather of twenty one years died six months later. Some time later his regiment moved to Mesopotamia, where Kenneth died on 21st February 1916 at or near Orah, shot by a rifle. The War Diary records:-
Battalion HQ made in Tigris Street close to Dorset Trench. Quiet day. At night General Gorringes column marched in the direction of Marsh Bend of river west of Hannah Position, whilst the 21st Brigade under General Norrie which was in Reserve marched north east. At 7.00pm rocket was sent up from the right of our trenches which immediately caused the Turks to open very heavy rifle fire and machine gun fire, also shrapnel and high explosive shells, lasting about one hour. Our casualties, 1 man killed, 1 man wounded. Later on, about 1pm. Lt K H Pegg was killed by a rifle bullet. Battalion occupied trench dug the night before, which was now called Leicester Trench, 500 yards distant from the Turks.
The Leicester Mercury reported on 25th February 1916:
LIEUT K H PEGG KILLED
Official intimation has been received that Lieut K H Pegg 2nd Leicestershire Regiment, has been killed in action in Mesopotamia, about January 20th. Lieut Pegg, who was 26 years of age, was the youngest son of the late Mr Abraham Pegg, and was educated at Stoneygate School and at Malvern. At the time of the outbreak of war he had been in Canada for about two months, and within a few weeks of the opening of hostilities had enlisted, and eventually came to England with the first Canadian Contingent. At Christmas 1914 he was given a commission, and transferred to the 3rd Leicestershire Regiment, and in the following March he went to France, attached to the 2nd Battalion, and saw a good deal of active service before his removal to Mesopotamia.
Kenneth was commemorated at Rothley along with the other men of the parish who had lost their lives, both inside the church on a memorial to “the heroic dead” and also on the war memorial in the village square.
He was also added to the marble memorial to his father at Welford Road Cemetery, which reads:
Also to the dear memory of/Kenneth Hugh Pegg/Lieutenant in the Leicestershire Regiment/Younger son of the above/Who was killed near Orah, Mesopotamia/on February 23rd 1916/Aged 24 years
After Kenneth’s death his sister Kathleen unsuccessfully applied for his medals on 11th December 1928; His brother William was successful on 4th March 1929. Kenneth’s mother Anne Elizabeth died at a nursing home in Middlesex in 1924.