Jonas Godfrey Norster 3 July 1859 – 12 Jan 1944

from the Hampshire & Sussex Chronicle, 26th March 1887.


The Naval Brigade in Burmah. Correspondent of the Western Morning News, writing from Rangoon on February 19th, says : Mr. Holman, gunner of the Ranger, is again to the front with his exploits. On the night of the 15th a spy gave him information of three armed boats being in his neighbourhood (Mimbu district); whereupon he proceeded to the spot, which is on the Mah river, a confluent of Irrawaddy, and cut out the three boats, each with six men in her, without any engagement. The prisoners and boats were taken to Mimbu and handed over to the civil authorities. Up to the present we have no particulars as to the accident which happened to Lieutenant Aplin, of the Ranger reported in my last. The telegrams merely state that he and an able seaman named Jonas Norster were soldering up a tin of guncotton, when it exploded. No guncotton was taken from the ship in launches. Aplin is in the sick quarters at Pagan. The military doctor fears he will lose the sight of his right eye, and advises his removal. Surgeon Johnson, of the Ranger, proceeds to Pagan to bring him him down to Rangoon. Lieutenant Johnston has taken over command of his launch. The seaman Norster is reported to be in great pain, but in no danger. The Mariner arrived from Bassein yesterday, and to day a naval brigade, under command of Commander Durnford, will proceed to Upper Burmah to relieve the Ranger’s men, who have now been over three months absent from their ship. The officers who accompany Commander Durnford are Lieutenants Warren and Cole, Sub-Lieutenant MacHutchin, and Mr. Ellis, gunner, with eighty bluejackets and Marines, and Surgeon Corcoran in medial charge. -Another correspondent writing on Feb. 26th to a western contemporary, says :- In my last letter I informed you that a naval brigade, from the Mariner, under the command of Commander Durnford , had proceeded to the upper waters of the Irrawaddy to relieve the officers and men of the Ranger, who had been absent from their ship for upwards of three Months. The first detachment of the Rangers, under Lieutenant Johnston, arrived at Rangoon yesterday, and consisted of 20 men and two invalids, with Surgeon Johnson. The two invalids were Lieutenant Aplin and Jonas Norster, able seaman, who were injured by an explosion of guncotton on board the launch Dacoit on the 11th inst. Lieutenant Aplin’s left eye has recovered from its injury; his right eye is badly injured, but not beyond recovery, and he is badly burnt about the face and body generally. Norster’s eyes escaped injury, but he is some what serious1y burnt otherwise. As soon Mr. Aplin is able to be moved he will be sent to England. Details of the accident are only now to hand. It appears that close to Pagan (Aplin’s headquarters) the navigation of the river was impeded by two sunken steamers of the late King Theban (sic – Theebaw). Aplin offered to blow up these vessels, his services were accepted, and from the Royal engineers he procured some five or six lbs. of gun-cotton, and he was preparing his mine in a tin which had held preserved potatoes. Norster held the tin, and Mr. Aplin was soldering it, when the explosion took place. Of course the tin was not nearly closed, or the results would have been very different. The change of the monsoon is about taking place, which means the end of the cool weather, and life in Burmah will soon become unpleasant for a man with a white skin.