The Airmen's Stories - F/O C O J Pegge
Constantine Oliver Joseph Pegge was born in Slough, Buckinghamshire in July 1914 and attended Kings School in Warwick. He joined the RAF on a short service commission in August 1938.
With his training completed, he was serving with 'B' Flight of No. 1 AACU, Carew Cheriton by November 1939. He crashed Hawker Henley L3283 at Farnborough on 24th November on a ferry flight.
Pegge moved from 'B' Flight to 'J' Flight No. 1 AACU, when it was formed at Farnborough on 1st December 1939. It moved to Penrhos on 16th February 1940.
He arrived at 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 27th May 1940 and after converting to Spitfires joined 610 Squadron at Gravesend on 16th June.
On 8th July Pegge claimed a Me109 destroyed, on 12th August two more and on the 18th a Me109 destroyed and a He111 damaged. On the return to Biggin Hill his Spitfire, R6694, was damaged by a Me109 and then further damaged by running into a bomb crater on landing. Pegge was unhurt.
On 24th August he probably destroyed a Me109, claimed another destroyed on the 28th and a He111 on the 30th. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 22nd October 1940).
During his service with 610 at Acklington the following incident was recorded by Sgt. HD Denchfield:
'On 7th October our flight commander Joe Pegge led us off in a tight formation flying along the beaches and hopping over the dunes, heading towards Berwick. Suddenly he said, "Listen to this, you two". I looked across and he was holding a book in his right hand and flying with his left at just 100 feet. He was reading excerpts from the raunchy Kama Sutra and still managed to get over the dunes. When he was returning from honeymoon by train three of us decided to welcome him in our Spitfires, criss-crossing over the tops of the carriages at about 50 feet and in our boyish enthusiasm forgetting about telephone poles. He told us we were silly sods who had put his bride off flying for ever'.
In January 1941 Pegge was presented with a silver tray by Welwyn Garden City. The reason for this is not recorded but the family understand that it was for shooting down a Heinkel 111 which was attacking Welwyn.
On 18th May 1941 he left 610 to take up an instructor post at 57 OTU Hawarden as flying instructor. Promotion to Flight Lieutenant followed on 3rd September 1941 along with a move to 56 OTU Sutton Bridge. He commanded 610 Squadron from December 1941 until February 1942, when he was posted overseas.
He married Elizabeth Elsie Florey at Hendon in March 1942.
On 9th June Pegge was given command of 127 Squadron in the Western Desert. He destroyed a Me109 on 8th July and two Ju87s on 2nd September. He left the squadron in April 1943 and returned to the UK.
In September 1944 Pegge went to 126 Squadron at Bradwell Bay as a supernumerary Squadron Leader. He took command of 131 Squadron at Friston in October and led it until June 1945. He was then posted to command 607 Squadron in Burma, which he did until its disbandment at Mingaladon on 19th August 1945. Pegge was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 29th January 1946).
Staying on in the RAF post-war, Pegge was granted substantive promotion to Squadron Leader with effect from August 1947 and he was granted a permanent commission on 22nd June 1948. On 11th January 1949 he was one of the surviving Battle veterans that attended the unveiling of the Battle of Britain memorial window at the Rolls Royce Works Derby.
Pegge was killed on 9th May 1950 whilst flying in Meteor F4 VT234 of the Central Fighter Establishment, West Raynham. The aircraft flew into the Wash when descending in mist and fog whilst Pegge was flying as No.2 to a course pilot.
He was buried in East Raynham Churchyard on 16th June 1950.
Additional research by John Crawshaw