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RNZAF Stories: Mogadishu Memories

In January 1993 three RNZAF Andover transport aircraft and their crews from No. 42 Squadron were deployed to Mogadishu, Somalia. During the 1990s, the RNZAF was deployed to several war-torn regions of the world as peacekeepers and sources of humanitarian relief, a role they still fulfil today.

Torn apart by civil war between local warlords and with no true government, Somalia was an anarchic state. With widespread famine also affecting the country, the 62 strong RNZAF contingent formed part of the multi-national effort to protect food aid convoys from the warlords' forces. They shared the camp and airfield facilities with American and Australian personnel and aircraft.

RNZAF In Mogadishu, 1993

In their hot and dusty camp next to Mogadishu Airport, the Kiwis were operational within a day of arrival. During their five-month deployment, 233 missions were flown, transporting personnel in and out, carrying supplies and dropping two million leaflets warning the Somali warlords not to attack relief convoys.

The RNZAF personnel and their American and Australian colleagues left in May 1993, having made a valuable contribution to humanitarian relief in one of the most hostile and dangerous regions of the world.

Read more about this deployment in February’s issue of Air Force News, available at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand or online at

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Unknown civilian man holding a pigeon. England. Original caption reads: "British Official Photograph CH5011. How 'Winkie' an RAF Pigeon Helped Save the Crew of a Derelict 'Beaufort' The crew of four of a 'Beaufort' aircraft of Coastal Command, RAF, forced down into the North Sea owe their rescue partly to a pigeon known as 'Winkie' one of two pigeons carried. When the aircraft was forced down the Wireless operator got out the tin pigeon container. 'Winkie' had broken out; the other, sent off with a message attached, failed to report. The base aerodrome picked up a weak call sign giving a vague indication of the position of the crew in their dinghy - the aircraft having sunk very quickly - but the arrival at her loft of 'Winkie', wet and oil clogged after a 100 mile flight in bad weather, enabled calculations to be made which narrowed considerably the area of search. The crew were eventually located and taken aboard by an RAF high speed launch. The RAF pigeon 'Winkie', which flew a hundred miles in bad weather back to its loft, this materially aiding the rescue of the 'Beaufort' crew. See Air Ministry Bulletin 6428."

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