GUNNER ERNEST ROBERT ROUNCE
ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY
23RD AUGUST 1917 AGE 20
BURIED: HOSPITAL FARM CEMETERY, YPRES, GERMANY
Ernest Rounce's father references 'Non Angli Sed Angeli', a poem by the Revd Geoffrey Studdert-Kennedy published in More Rough Rhymes of a Padre (1919). An inspirational Church of England padre, Studdert-Kennedy was probably better known by his nickname, Woodbine Willie, which came from his habit of generously dishing out cigarettes (Woodbines) along with his religious homilies. During the war he ardently encouraged soldiers to battle, but afterwards he became an equally ardent pacifist and socialist. 'Non Angli Sed Angeli' hints as this.
The title refers to a story Bede (672/3 - 735) related in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People. It dates from 590 when Pope Gregory the Great came across some faired-haired, fair-skinned people being sold in a slave market in Rome. When he asked what they were he was told they were Angles. He is reported to have replied, 'Non Angli sed angeli', not Angles but angels.
Studdert-Kennedy's poem is a plea that the men who died for freedom should not be betrayed by the new slavery of capitalism, "the minotaur of Mammon":
"Shall wealth still grow and woe increase to breed
In filthy slums the slaves of poverty?"
If this happens:
"Then blessed are the dead who die in war,
Their bodies shattered but their souls untouched
By slime of sin, unpoisoned by the snake.
For war is kinder than a Godless peace.
O England, let this message from the past
Ring down the ages like a trumpet call,
Not Angles these but angels, souls not slaves.
Let thy wealth be counted not in sov'reigns
But in souls .... "
What did Ernest Rounce's father, a Metropolitan police constable, mean by his choice of inscription? He hasn't quoted the poem exactly but it's definitely the source. I think he was at one with Studdert-Kennedy, make England a country fit for those who fought and died for it not just a rich country that benefitted the wealthy.
Rounce served with C Battery, 76th Brigade Royal Field Artillery. He is buried in a dressing station cemetery just outside the village of Vlamertinge not far from Ypres. My assumption would be that he died soon after he'd been wounded, on the same day - 23 August 1917.