The Battle of Los Angeles

Not many people know that there was the Battle of Los Angeles, fought in the United States on February 25, 1942. The battle including anti-aircraft fire and collateral damage.

The Galveston Daily News, Feb. 26, 1942

A map showing where the battle took place with anti-aircraft guns opening fire and identifying the object either as a blimp or a plane. The object was believed to have moved down the coast.

And herein lies the first interesting aspect of the battle, and that is the attempt to identify what, if anything, was being shot at. In this article it was either a blimp or a plane.

Syracuse Herald Journal, Feb. 26, 1942

In this article it's said that there were 15 enemy planes in the raid, or at least so said the Secretary of War. The Secretary of the Navy, though, had said it was a false alarm.

1,430 rounds of ammunition were fired between 3:122 and 4:14 A.M. The Secretary of War said the planes were flying from a very slow speed up to 200 mph, and from 9,000 to 18,000 feet in altitude. No bombs were dropped an no planes rose to challenge the invaders, according to the article. Further, the Secretary of War claimed that the raid was to instill panic and/or determine the location of anti-aircraft guns.

Reno Evening Gazette, Feb. 26, 1942

On the other hand, there's this article from the Reno Evening Gazette. Based on eye-witness reports, there were at least two waves of bombers, a total of 200 planes, which did drop bombs. Other witnesses thought there was only one wave of planes.

Looking where the searchlights were converging, witnesses either saw no planes at all, or something which looked like a “giant butterfly,” which they thought might have been a blimp.

Another witness said they saw a plane shot down.

So, either there were no planes or there were 200; either bombs were dropped or they weren't; either there was or was not a blimp; either no American planes were involved, or one plane (of one side or the other) was shot down.

Is this beginning to look confusing or not?

The Galveston Daily News, Feb. 26, 1942

Another article, another view of what happened. This time the Secretary of the Navy says the thing was a false alarm. Fourth Army HQ, though, are quoted as saying that the aircraft had not been identified. Flak fragments fell into residential neighborhoods, breaking one window but not injuring anyone.

One “official” source said that Army planes responded immediately; another “official” source said no planes got off the runways since they didn't want to be shot down by their own flak.

It was also the deadline for persons of Japanese ancestry to be out of the west coast prohibited zones, and the article notes eight Japanese being arrested as possibly having used lights to signal the aircraft. They were released when the lights turned out to be tracer fire.

The article also claims that flares were landing and had been fired by persons of Japanese ancestry in order to guide the planes.

One person at an aircraft factory had field glasses, looked at the scene of the attack, and says he didn't see any planes at all.

Other similar articles

The Lowell Sun, Feb. 26, 1942

The News (MD), Feb. 26, 1942

The Oakland Tribune, Feb. 26, 1942

Reno Evening Gazette, Feb. 27, 1942

San Mateo Times and Daily News Leader, Nov. 2, 1945

Of course, one group to ask was the Japanese, and there position was rather clear.

Walla-Walla Union bulletin, Nov. 1, 1945

According to the Japanese, after the war, there never were any planes at all that attacked Los Angeles. So, what happened in the “Battle of Los Angeles”?

First, it's unlikely there were actually any planes.

1) The Japanese after the war said that no planes attacked Los Angeles.

2)The Secretary of Navy said there were no planes.

3)There were no bombs dropped. Why fly a bunch of planes and not drop any bombs?

4)The Japanese submarines that could launch planes could only launch one single plane, period. This was what was used when the forests of Oregon were attacked to try and start a forest fire. To have any significant number of planes at all would have required a Japanese carrier (and support ships) to have been in the area and I think this may be why the Secretary of the Navy said there were no actual planes since he would have known of any reports of Japanese carriers between Hawaii and the west coast. No carriers, no air raid.

A blimp is even more unlikely than planes.

In all reality, probably what happened was someone thought they saw something and one thing led to another and, in the tenseness of the early war environment on the west coast, someone decided to open fire.

This is the possibility that the object was a U.F.O. It is interesting that, when you examine the enhanced photo, there are three small points of light that could mark the tips of a triangular-shaped object. Triangular-shaped UFOs have been reported numerous times.

In any event, the Battle of Los Angeles is a fascinating event in early WWII history and shows just how vulnerable the coastline of the United States was. It is extremely fortunate that the Japanese did not follow up on their attack on Pearl Harbor by a direct assault on Hawaii and then the US west coast. A direct attack on the coast could have caused considerable damage, loss of life, great chaos and confusion, and considerable panic.

Other Information

Battle of Los Angeles: Fighting off an Alien Craft book review

The Battle of Los Angeles: The History of the Notorious False Alarm that Caused an Artillery Barrage over California during World War II review

The Main Points of Wikipedia article on the Battle of Los Angeles

The Museum of the City of San Francisco article on theLos Angeles air raid, main points of the article

You Tube videos about the Battle of Los Angeles

1942 Battle of Los Angeles Radio Broadcast
Battlefield LA
Battle of Los Angeles During World War II
Battle of Los Angeles -Shocking Event
LA 1942 (You Tube)
The Battle of LA (You Tube)
The Battle of LA (You Tube) (diff. from above)
UFOs- The Battle of Los Angeles (You Tube)

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