The Battle for Los Angeles

Posted 18 May 2011 in Featured Blog, UFO, Unexplained

On February 24, Annie Jacobsen posted this Backstory report for the Los Angeles Times Magazine:

Sixty-nine years ago tonight, with World War II in its third, nerve-wracking month, air-raid sirens sounded across Los Angeles as the U.S. Army responded to what it believed was an aerial assault on the city by the Japanese. Seems an undetermined number of flying craft had been spotted over Santa Monica Bay.

By the time the craft—whatever they were—reached the Santa Monica Mountains, powerful Army searchlights had at least one of the objects in sight. And by the time the above photograph was taken, the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade had begun firing antiaircraft shells in an effort to shoot them down. More than 1,400 shells were fired—and they all missed.

Come morning, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox said in a press conference that the incident had been a “false alarm” aggravated by “war nerves.” At the time, there had been much speculation that the Japanese might be secretly building aircraft bases in Mexico, which would make for an easy attack on L.A. This false alarm, Knox suggested, was a fabricated extension of that fear.

The Los Angeles Times and other papers were not so quick to accept the official version of events. After all, hundreds of eyewitnesses said they saw objects flying through the air. Congressman Leland Ford of Santa Monica called for an investigation to determine whether the incident was a “practice raid, or a raid to throw a scare into two million people or a mistaken-identity raid or a raid to take away Southern California’s war industries.”

Either way, the details of an investigation were not shared. The war escalated, and priorities shifted. Pretty soon, the event, called the Great Los Angeles Air Raid, faded into history—until 1983. That’s when the Office of the Air Force decided to conduct its own, 40-year-old investigation.

The timing had much to do with the military’s desire to offset growing claims by ufologists that the L.A.-based episode served as proof that extraterrestrials regularly visit Earth and that the military repeatedly covers it up. In its report, the Air Force concluded that in the wee hours of February 25, 1942, Los Angeles had been visited by a wave of “meteorological balloons.”

It seems silly that the Air Force would spend time and treasure to allege such an unlikely conclusion; how could 1,400 antiaircraft shells not be able to shoot down a slow-flying, low-flying balloon. Then again, it seems equally frivolous to insist, as ufologists do, that the Great Los Angeles Air Raid involved alien aircraft.

Never mind. For unbridled fantasy, beginning on March 11, you can see Hollywood’s version—Battle: Los Angeles—in which Columbia Pictures uses the 69-year-old historical event as a launch point for a modern-day showdown between man and alien for control of the City of Angels.

Posted by raphen

1 Comment

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