The Battle of Los Angeles is the name given by modern historians to the incident associated with rumors of an enemy attack and the subsequent barrage of air defense forces that occurred on the night of 24 to 25 February 1942 in Los Angeles, California, USA. The incident occurred less than three months after the United States entered World War II as a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Japanese Navy. and the day after the Japanese attack on Ellwood on February 23, 1942.
Initially, the alleged attacking Japanese forces were considered the target of the air defense fire, however, speaking at a press conference shortly after the incident, Secretary of the Navy Franklin Knox called the whole incident a “false alarm”. The incident gave rise to a lot of speculation and ” sensation ” in the newspapers of the time.
When documenting the incident in 1983, the U.S Air Force Office of History explained the incident as a result of “military nervousness”, likely caused by a weather balloon and exacerbated by stray flashes and gunshots from neighboring batteries.
Air raid sirens sounded in Los Angeles County on the night of February 24-25, 1942. A total blackout was ordered, and thousands of air surveillance controllers were called into position. At 03:16, the 37th Coastal Artillery Brigade began firing, eventually firing over 1,400 rounds. The pilots of the 4th interceptor team were put on alert. However, the aircraft remained on the ground. Artillery fire sporadically continued until 04:14.The order to remove the blackout and information about the absence of a threat were received at 07:21.
Several buildings and vehicles were damaged by shell fragments. Five civilians were killed in the incident.
The incident itself made headlines across the US Pacific Coast and received media coverage across the country.
A few hours after the incident, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox declared the incident to be a false alarm. General George Marshall suggested that private jets used as a means of psychological warfare to create panic may have been the cause of the incident.
Some modern media suspect the concealment of the facts about what happened. Thus, the Long Beach Independent newspaper wrote about the existence of “mysterious silence” and “some censorship on this issue.” There were speculative theories about an air invasion from a secret base in northern Mexico, as well as from Japanese submarine aircraft carriers.
A photograph published by the Los Angeles Times on February 26, 1942 was taken by conspiracy theorists and ufologists as evidence of a visit to an extraterrestrial civilization. In their opinion, an alien ship is clearly visible in the photograph in the light of searchlights. However, the published photo was heavily retouched prior to publication, which was a common fine art practice of the time to improve the contrast of black and white photographs.