In Chapter 1 of Operation Nightfall, characters from the fictional world collide with those who lived through the experience. The setting is Casablanca, Moroccco, on December 7th, 1942, just one day before the allied invasion. A little known coup d’etat was in play between the pro-allied General Antoine Béthouart and the loyal Vichy-French General Charles Noguès. The coup was stopped which led to the reinforcement of troops garrisoned on the beaches. This increased casualties on both sides and prolonged what should have been a much shorter operation. Major General George S. Patton commanded the western task force consisting of some 35,000 troops and around 100 ships. Casablanca also saw the first firing of 16″ naval guns in combat when the U.S.S. Massachusetts (BB-59) sank the Vichy French Battleship Jean Bart at her dock.
Another more famous soldier is introduced in Chapter 1, although he wasn’t famous until well after the war. Lieutenant Ian Fleming, British Intelligence, became one of the most famous writers in modern culture. Maybe he wrote good spy novels, because he was a good spy? Maybe or maybe not, but for the sake of fiction let’s assume the affirmative. In 1942, Ian was working strangely enough on Operation Goldeneye, which was the plan to maintain Gibraltar’s intelligence operations in the event Spain fell into German hands. The trip from Gibraltar into Northern Africa was a short boat ride, even with a war on. Let’s just say, maybe the plucky Brit intelligence officer got into a few things that might be considered classified.
One of the main characters in the book also existed during the time period. Ensign John Bell, who is recognized in U.S. Navy SEAL history as one of the first SEALS, participated in Operation Torch. He leads a small group of Naval Raiders to scout the beaches of Casablanca prior to the invasion. However, once they arrive he unveils a much more difficult mission. A mission that sets the tempo for Operation Nightfall.