History is full of stories we think we know. They are old and dark, but time has robbed us of perspective and clarity. They've become obscured and misunderstood. Which is why this series exists: to dig deep and shed light on some of history’s darkest moments. To help us better understand where we’ve come from. To make it Unobscured. Each season pairs narrative storytelling from Aaron Mahnke, creator of the hit podcast Lore, with prominent historian interviews. Season Three: Jack the Ripper
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This is episode 16 and we’re covering Operation Savannah which took place between October and December 1975. That was the invasion of southern Angola by the South African Defence Force in response to the outbreak of a civil war in the country involving the three main independence movements that had fought against Portuguese colonial rule. These were the MPLA, Unita and the FNLA. Our focus in this episode shifts in a while to the FNLA’s assault on the Capital Luanda. But first an update about the SADF. Brigadier Schoeman who was in charge of the region had setup his base at Cela in the south east and he had plans. The first was to replace the commanders of both Task Forces. So he duly summoned Zulu’s Colonel van Heerden to a meeting. Van Heerden left Battle Group Alpha behind at the port of Sumbe south of Luanda and arrived in Cela on the 13th November along with 500 members of his now ragged force. He was told that Task Force Zulu was to be led by Colonel CJ Swart. Commandat Eddie Webb also received the military equivalent of a Dear Jonnie and he was replaced as Foxbat officer commanding by Commandant George Kruys. The SADF swapped out these hardened soldiers at precisely the same time as the anti-MPLA forces were to suffer a reversal of fortune. Earlier in November on the 4th , Magnus Malan and Constand Viljoen had paid a secret lightning visit to Holden Roberto at his port laire where they tried to convince him that a direct assault along the main roads was not the wisest military strategy. Roberto refused to entertain other options - a decision which turned out to be suicidal.