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The Battle of Los Angeles

  • Case Number: #0118
  • Date: 24 February 1942
  • Time: 3.16 am
  • Location: Harbor of Los Angeles, U.S.A.
  • Witness(es): Military staff
  • Classification: NL - Nocturnal Light
Not long after the United States entry into World War 2, the skies of Los Angeles would become the scene of an air battle with anti-aircraft guns being deployed and fired in defense of a supposed enemy attack. The source of the enemy attack would be in question however, as being first believed to be Japanese fighters, this was later dismissed and the incident was classified as a false alarm caused by a weather balloon. However, the many multiple witnesses who were there claim that there was an object in the sky that night that was hovering, like a UFO, and the barrage of artillery fire seemed to not effect it in any way. Afterwards, many speculations would come out about the incident and supposed UFO sighting in the press and it was not long before there were accusations of a cover up.

black out in the city

It was the night of the 24th of February 1942, when the air-raid sirens began to blast out their eerie sound, a black out was issued over the city and as well rehearsed, the many air-raid wardens went to their positions. The heavy silence of the night was then broken by the shots that began to come from the Coast Artillery Brigade at 3.16 am, using fifty caliber machine guns and 12-8 pound anti-aircraft shells, they pounded the skies that were lit only by the beams of the search lights. From the time they started to fire to the end of the incident at 4.14 am, over one thousand four hundred shells would be fired at the object until eventually the all clear signal was given and the blackout was eventually lifted at 7.21 am.
It was reported later that during the incident, the 4th Interceptor Command were also alerted to the possible attack on the city, but fortunately they remained grounded during the ordeal.
The aftermath of the frightening event would also have implications on the city, with many fragments falling and damaging buildings and vehicles in the area and very sadly there were also a number of deaths during the night. Though not directly linked to the firefighting, three people were killed in car crashes that were brought on by the ensuing chaos and the blackout and also two others suffered from heart attacks, which were attributed to the fear and stress that they must have undergone as the incident unfolded.
Sometime after, with panic about what had happened spreading through the population of the city, and the rest of the nation, with fear of another attack, the Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, held a press conference about what had happened. In it he claimed that the whole incident had been a false alarm, which had been brought on by what he described as “war nerves” and the possible presence of a weather balloon.
Later, the army also followed up with a statement that backed up this, and there were also other comments that became public, including that of C. Marshalls belief, that the whole incident could have been caused by a commercial airplane. Many believe that this could have been used as an attempt at psychological warfare in an attempt to cause a general panic with the population.

censorship and weather balloons

What had happened then inevitably went on to become front page news along the Pacific Coast and also in media centres across the nation and there was immediately many stories of suspected cover-ups in the contemporary press outlets.
The Long Island Beach Independent wrote that there was a mysterious reticence about the whole affair and it appeared that some of the censorship was trying to halt discussion on the matter.
Many other theories emerged through speculation including there being a secret base in Northern Mexico and that there could also be Japanese submarines based off the shores of the United States that could have the capability of carrying fighter planes that could cause destruction on the country. There was also talk of the event being exaggerated or even staged so as to give the coastal defenses an excuse to move further inland.
It is also reported that approximately twenty-four hours after the incident, a memo was sent from the Department of War to the President of America, claiming that there was an incident involving unidentified flying objects and that the incident was an ongoing investigation. Later, it was all dismissed as being prompted by nerves and the presence of a weather balloon in the sky. However, it was pointed out by a number of ufologists later, that if this was in fact correct, the US military could not bring down a weather balloon with over an hour of military barrage fire, using over one thousand shells.
A meeting of congress was called for by the representative of Santa Monica to look into the incident, stating that none of the explanations that had been put forward to that point removed the incident from the category of complete mystification. It was stated that this was one of many possibilities, including either a practice raid, a raid to throw scare into two-million people, a case of mistaken identity or a raid by a political foundation to take away the Southern California’s War Industries.
Later a woman air raid warden would come forward with a description of what she saw in the sky, again, putting doubt on the claim that it was a false alarm.
The woman described what she saw as a huge object, she claimed “It was just enormous! And it was practically right over my house. I have never seen anything like it in my life! It was just hovering there in the sky and hardly moved at all. It was a lovely pale orange and about the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. I could see it perfectly because it was so close.”
Another eye witness who spoke shortly after the incident claimed the following:
"They sent fighter planes up and I watched them in groups approach it and then turn away. They were shooting at it but it didn't seem to matter. It was like the Fourth of July but much louder. They were firing like crazy but they couldn't touch it. I'll never forget what a magnificent sight it was. Just marvellous. And what a gorgeous colour!"
Others who had watched the incident unfold claimed that the craft may have crashed just passed Long Beach, however no wreckage was ever found to support these claims.

false alarm?

It would appear by what was said by most others, that the supposed craft was untouchable by the barrage of artillery fire, as if protected in some way, and it continued slowly along its route somewhat unaffected by the man-made weapons.
What makes this case so appealing is also the photographic evidence that is available from the night. As the object, that many claim they could see, moved just over the famous MGM studios, which are in Culver City, the view of it greatly improved and a photo was taken. Though an old black and white picture, it is still highly significant in the case and would go on to become one of the most famous UFO sighting pictures of the era.
If it not for the war that was raging and threatening the world at the time, this incident would have made a much larger news story and it is suggested that it was this episode that could have been in mind when President Ronald Reagan made his famous speech about the alien threat from outside our world.
With the masses of witnesses claiming to have seen something over the skies of Los Angeles that night back in 1942, it is possible that the incident could be classed far more as a UFO sighting over what the authorities claimed it to be, a false alarm caused by a weather balloon due to war nerves. Though tensions would have been high at the time, with the threat of Japanese fighters coming across the ocean, the fact that the artillery fire continued for near enough an hour and a half, would seem a little excessive in the fact that it was a false alarm or weather balloon, and as mentioned previously, a weather balloon that could not be brought down with such a massive attack of military fire power.

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