24 February 1942

The Battle of Los Angeles: A false alarm led to an anti-aircraft barrage that lasted into the early hours of February 25.

The Battle of Los Angeles, also known as the Great Los Angeles Air Raid, was an incident that occurred during World War II in the early hours of February 25, 1942. This event was marked by an intense anti-aircraft barrage over Los Angeles, California, prompted by fears of a Japanese air attack on the West Coast of the United States.

The events unfolded shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, which had put the entire country on high alert. On the night of February 24-25, just a few months after Pearl Harbor, radar operators and air defense units along the coast of California detected an unidentified object or objects approaching from the sea.

In response to the perceived threat, air raid sirens sounded throughout the Los Angeles area, triggering a blackout as part of the city’s defense measures. Anti-aircraft artillery units were immediately mobilized, and the sky over Los Angeles was filled with searchlights and barrages of anti-aircraft fire.

Despite the intense barrage, no enemy aircraft were ever confirmed, and no bombs were dropped on the city. However, the incident caused widespread panic and confusion among the civilian population.

The military initially claimed that Japanese aircraft were responsible for the incident, but this assertion was later retracted, and the object or objects remain unidentified to this day. The official explanation provided by the U.S. military was that the incident was likely caused by a combination of war nerves, stray balloons, and possibly Japanese aircraft that were spotted off the coast but never made it inland.

The Battle of Los Angeles remains a controversial and mysterious event in American history, with various theories and explanations proposed over the years, ranging from weather balloons to extraterrestrial activity. Regardless of the true nature of the incident, it highlighted the fear and tension that gripped the United States during World War II and the vulnerability felt by civilians on the home front.