The Battle of Los Angeles

The so called Battle of Los Angeles (a.k.a.The Great Los Angeles Air Raid) took place on the night of February 24 and into the morning of February 25, 1942, in the skies over Los Angeles, California.

America was on edge and perhaps for good reason, less than three months earlier the Japanese Imperial Navy had attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor destroying a significant portion of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and severely impacting shore based military installations.

Closer to home Japanese submarines were observed patrolling the west coast of North America where they engaged or destroyed several merchant vessels and on February 23, 1942, in what was the first shelling of the American mainland during the Second World War, a Japanese submarine (during one of President Roosevelt’s fireside chats no less) fired on the Ellwood Oil Field near Santa Barbara. Following the bombardment the submarine was allegedly seen heading south towards Los Angeles while supposedly flashing signal lights toward the shore. Though damage was negligible the event was apparently key in triggering both the West Coast invasion scare (hundreds fled inland following the attack the price of land dropping to historic lows) and the internment of Japanese Americans.

The alleged air raid over L.A. started with sirens wailing, a total blackout and searchlights sweeping the sky. An aerial bombardment consisting of over 1,400 shells began at 3:16 a.m. continuing until 4:14 a.m. the all clear sounding and the blackout lifting at 7:21 a.m. Aircraft of the 4th Interceptor Command remained grounded throughout.

Several buildings were damaged and three civilians were killed by friendly fire another three suffering heart attacks due to stress.

Within hours Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy, held a press conference stating the entire episode was a false alarm due to anxiety and war nerves. Others thought otherwise and speculation was the order of the day.
The theories being bandied about ran the gamut from psychological warfare, to a practice attack, staged either from Japanese submarines (carrying planes) or from secret bases located south of the United States/Mexico border. [1] [2]

In 1983, after documenting the incident, the U.S.Office of Air Force History concluded that the most likely explanation involved meteorological balloons as the source of the alarm the situation exacerbated by smoke, stray flares and shell bursts.

[1] Following war’s end the Japanese denied having any planes in the air over Los Angeles during the time of the alert.

[2] Some modern day UFO enthusiasts have suggested extraterrestrials as the culprit.

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