The Battle Of Los Angeles - 72 Years On
Next week will mark the 72nd anniversary of one of the most iconic and baffling UFO events in history. Nicknamed the Battle of Los Angeles, the events of February 24th 1942 began with air raid sirens sounding around the Los Angeles metropolitan area and would end with a widespread state of confusion following a barrage of anti-aircraft artillery that went on into the night, but ultimately no sign of a target or trigger for the alarm was found. Even to this day, 72 years on, explanations as to what happened can only be theorized and not proven.
When the Battle of Los Angeles commenced over the night of February 24th, America had only been actively involved in World War 2 for three months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. While wartime life had become the norm across much of the world, it is safe to say that America was still adapting. On February 23rd, Japanese forces fired upon the Ellwood Oil Field in Santa Barbara some 100 miles north of Los Angeles. This fresh attack heightened fears of a coastal invasion by Japanese forces and is one of the key drivers behind the suggestion that the events of the following day could be plainly put down to a case of 'war jitters'.
While it's true that nerves could have played a major factor in the sounding of sirens and firing of artillery, many ufologists point to the multiple sightings of objects in the sky as part of an argument that these bizarre events had an extraterrestrial element to them. But does the speed at which these objects were moving rule that out? Original news coverage such as the report in the video above states "The unidentified object, which some sources though might be a blimp, moved slowly down the Pacific coast from Santa Monica and disappeared south of Long Beach." That short 25 mile journey would take the object over 30 minutes to complete, which would be a remarkably sluggish pace for an advanced craft that had seemingly been 'spotted'. While many Ufologists have attempted to 'prove' that this was an extraterrestrial event, these attempts have ultimately ended with short investigations uncovering the claims as crude hoaxes.
Another frequently offered explanation is that of a stray weather balloon being mistaken for the beginnings of a Japanese air raid. Indeed, this was the official line taken by the US Air Force Office of History in their 1983 report.
"At 0306 a balloon carrying a red flare was seen over Santa Monica, and four batteries of anti-aircraft artillery opened fire whereupon 'the air over Los Angeles erupted like a volcano'. From this point on reports were hopelessly at variance," said the report.
"Probably much of the confusion came from the fact that anti-aircraft shell bursts, caught by the searchlights, were themselves mistaken for enemy planes. In any case, the next three hours produced some of the most imaginative reporting of the war."
The 1983 report offers an incredibly simple explanation for an event as chaotic as the Battle of Los Angeles. But then again, war can be chaotic especially when one considers that the West coast of the US was gripped with fear of a Japanese invasion. Attempts to doctor the famous searchlight photo to show an alien craft have severely damaged claims by ufologists that this was an extraterrestrial event. So, while it may be one of the most discussed events among ufologists and believers, all the evidence would appear to suggest that the events of February 24-25th should be remembered for battlefield chaos and not alien conspiracies.