Battle of Los Angeles

Battle of Los Angeles

The False Alarm That Left LA In Chaos…

Months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Los Angeles residents woke up to sirens, explosions, and searchlights across the skies. At 2:25 a.m. on Feb. 25, 1942, the people of Los Angeles woke up to sirens. Every light in the city was extinguished. Spotlights searched the sky above as bombs exploded overhead, filling the horizon with smoke and scattering debris across the city. Dressed in their pajamas, Angelenos stood on their porches, squinting upward to see the battle breaking out above them. In the streets, cars and trollies remained frozen where they had been as the alarms sounded, the thunderous roar of more than 1,400 rounds of ammunition exploding against the still night sky. Finally, the “all clear” was given at 7:21 a.m. In its wake, the air raid left five dead, many injured, and houses damaged by falling shells. What it did not leave, however, was any downed enemy aircraft. That’s because there hadn’t been enemy aircraft to begin with. The Battle of Los Angeles did in fact claim six lives. Three civilians were killed directly by friendly fire, while three others suffered heart attacks during the hourlong siege. A number of buildings were also damaged by our own anti-aircraft guns. While the Army's Western Defense Command in San Francisco initially attributed the incident to "unidentified planes" over Southern California, the secretary of the Navy said the event was the result of "war nerves" and a false alarm. It wasn't until 1983, more than 40 years later, that the military concluded that the incident was possibly caused by a drifting weather balloon.

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