The Battle of Los Angeles
so called Battle of Los
Great Los Angeles Air Raid) took place on the night of
and into the morning of February 25, 1942, in the skies over Los
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
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
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.
theories being bandied about ran the
gamut from psychological
a practice attack, staged either from Japanese submarines
or from secret bases located south of the United States/Mexico border.
1983, after documenting the incident, the U.S.Office of Air Force
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.
 Following war’s end the Japanese denied having any planes in the
air over Los Angeles during the time of the alert.
 Some modern day UFO enthusiasts have suggested
extraterrestrials as the culprit.
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