Michael Apperley - Cooking arrangements

Running time
5 min 4 sec
Date made
Place made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


It was a fairly basic accommodation, just a concrete building with a, I think it had a bit of a concrete roof with a bit of galvanized iron sort of sitting over the top of it, none of the windows were in it, or they'd either been stolen or smashed, none of the wiring was actually in the building, all the copper wire, all the electrical cables, those types of things were all removed and, I think, potentially either used by the locals or sold off, you know.

No power, so we had a couple of generators. And we had to travel about maybe 300 metres for a shower. And we had a couple of what they call choofers set up. Never seen one before, you know, get in the middle of Mogadishu and the army have these things called choofers, which are basically your toilets, but it actually incinerates or burns, whatever the waste is, and, you know, you have to light the choofer in the morning, you know, sort of thing.

So, lost a few eyebrows, you know, not being too skilled in that area. But yeah, you know, we, the building was sort of set up in a fairly open area which we used to use for a bit of a recreation area. And then all of the little hidey holes, you know, down the rest of the building was sort of sectioned off and that's where we set up our, our cots and our bunks and various other bits and pieces. Our trunk that we brought with us was basically under our bunk.

We had mozzie nets, and we had, you know, the usual, what you certainly expect from a place that doesn't really have any sanitation and you know, any of that sort of thing, a lot of rats running around the place. Rats used to knock off our rat traps, they were so big, so you know, they'd disappear off them and we'd collect the rat trap down, you know, another part of the compound after the rat had taken it.

We mainly sort of, from a sort of subsistence perspective, we had a stash of ration packs and our main source of food was a Norwegian field kitchen and that was set up, you know, for most of the UN contingent to access for meals. We weren't big on fish and cheese, which is basically what they served up most meals, it didn't matter where they went down there for breakfast or lunch or tea, there was the same hot cheese with holes in it and, you know, fish not cooked sometimes.

And very quickly the guys and the girls were not really impressed with the food. So we sort of arranged our own, we organised our own meals, we built ourselves a barbecue area and in the end, we started basically looking after ourselves because the food that was being provided by the UN, in that first couple of months that I was there, was making people ill and, you know, various other bits and pieces. So we just decided amongst ourselves that we were going to look after that ourselves.

So we just made friends with the, there was an American company called Brown and Root in theatre providing accommodation and services for the US Army and we got friendly with a couple of the chefs there and we started eating quite well. We also had access to the supply battalion, the New Zealand supply battalion and they were managing all the food as it came in and out. So, yeah, we would go down and we were talking about how many trips to the seaport, a lot of the trips to the seaport were to either pick up passengers or go down and pick up food that we were going to, you know, make ourselves, so, interesting.

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