February 23, 2009

shooting stars

Many may not know that more than sixty years ago today, A World War II battle was raging in the skies over Southern California. The Battle of Los Angeles came at a tense time. The US was newly into the war and had suffered a string of defeats in the Pacific. On top of that, the British had just surrendered Singapore and a Japanese submarine had recently shelled an oil refinery in Santa Barbara. During the night of February 24th, objects were sighted in the skies. Air raid sirens sounded and a total blackout was ordered at 2:25am. At 3:16am, the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade began shelling at what reports ranged from multiple aircraft in V formation to one large craft. The shelling went on for almost an hour, firing 1400 shells, killing 3 and causing 3 heart attack deaths. Los Angeles Times Reporter Bill Henry wrote, "I was far enough away to see an object without being able to identify it ... I would be willing to bet what shekels I have that there were a number of direct hits scored on the object." Editor Peter Jenkins of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner reported, "I could clearly see the V formation of about 25 silvery planes overhead moving slowly across the sky toward Long Beach." Finally, the all clear was sounded at 7:21am. The next day, the Secretary of the Navy called it a "false alarm", but the Army responded that the attack had been genuine, with 1 to 5 aircraft. Japanese records investigated after the war showed no evidence of any flights over LA in that time. The incident remains a mystery, with theories ranging from the usual 'weather balloons' to UFO's.
  • Matt's Today in History: The Battle of Los Angeles
  • Wikipedia: Battle of Los Angeles

  • An update: The Fort MacArthur Museum in San Pedro's Angels Gate Park is having a sort-of reenactment to commemorate the Battle of LA. "The idea behind the outdoor event is to re-create a social event, 1942 style, that is interrupted by the war - the fort's siren will go off to mark the anniversary, and staffers also are working on scheduling a flyover by a World War II plane." The event features swing bands, fireworks and tours of underground military tunnels by the guy from "Cities of the Underworld." Kinda bummed that I'll be out of town. more info at this link:
  • Daily Breeze: Great LA Air Raid Returns
  • No comments: