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1942: THE GREAT LOS ANGELES AIR RAID



Searchlight batteries,- grouped in the vicinity of an airfield and several big aircraft factories------the evidently empty air in the course of the five-hour alarm.- The many little dual horizontal
outside Los Angeles, scour the sky during the pre-dawn air-raid excitement of Feb. 23.- The------lines of light are stars which moved during the time exposure. They came in pairs because
blob of light left of center in the picture is a bursting anti-aircraft shell, one of scores fired into-----the photographer closed his shutter briefly during exposure,- cutting each star path in half.
(please click image)


"Time exposure photograph of the sky somewhere on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Photograph taken by Al Monteverde and published in Life Magazine on March 9, 1942 (page 22). The star trails indicate the photograph was taken looking south and show the constellations of Lupus and Centaurus. Based on the apparent positions of the stars, the time is between 3:10 and 3:30 AM. According to the article, the blur at left of center is an anti-aircraft burst. Notice how the beams tend to terminate at one bright spot where the beams converge. The longer exposure time captured the beams beyond these convergence points. There are no UFOs or aircraft visible in this photograph."


WITH THANKS TO:

C. SCOTT LITTLETON, PAUL T. COLLINS, AND THE WANDERLING


THE EXPERTS

C. SCOTT LITTLETON:

On February 24-25, 1942, all of southern California from the San Juaquin Valley to the Mexico border was blacked out. Fearing a WWII Japanese invasion attack, air raid sirens had gone on and off the evening of February 24, as intermittent unidentified aerial lights were reported. Then at 2:25 a.m. on February 25, most of the greater Los Angeles region's three million population was awakened by loud air raid sirens that kept wailing for the next thirty-eight minutes. Powerful searchlights were aimed at a glowing unidentified aerial object over the Santa Monica Mountains that was shaped like a "lozenge." Moments later, America's 37th Coast Artillery Brigade fired off 1,430 anti-aircraft shells at the UFO.

An eyewitness, who was 8-years-old that night, was C. Scott Littleton (1933 - 2010). In 2003, as a Professor of Anthropology Emeritus at Occidental College, Littleton wrote the following paragraphs, below the graphic paraphrased somewhat by him as found in his memoirs about growing up in Hermosa Beach, California, memoirs he titled as 2500 STRAND:




"I was an eyewitness to the events of that unforgettable February morning in February 25 of 1942. I was eight-years-old at the time, and my parents lived at 2500 Strand in Hermosa Beach, right on the beach. We thus had a grandstand seat. While my father went about his air-raid warden duties, my late mother and I watched the glowing object, which was caught in the glare of searchlights from both Palos Verdes and Malibu/Pacific/Palisades and surrounded by the puffs of ineffectual anti-aircraft fire, as it slowly flew across the ocean from northwest to southeast. It headed inland over Redondo Beach a couple of miles to the south of our vantage point, and eventually disappeared over the eastern end of the Palos Verdes Hills, what's today called Rancho Palos Verdes. The whole incident lasted, at least from our perspective, about half an hour, although we didn't time it. Like other kids in the neighborhood, I spent the next morning picking up pieces of shrapnel on the beach. Indeed, it's a wonder more people weren't injured by the stuff, as we were far from the only folks standing outside watching the action. [Editor's Note: Six people died during the event from injury and heart attacks.]

"In any case, I don't recall seeing any truly discernible configuration - just a small, glowing, slight lozenge-shaped blob of light - a single blob. We only saw one object, not several as some witnesses later reported. At the time, we were convinced that it was a 'Jap' reconnaissance plane, and that L. A. might be due for a major air-raid in the near future. Remember, this was less than three months after Pearl Harbor.

"...And yes, I'm pretty sure it was a UFO. However, what might at first glance be taken for a 'bubble' similar to those often reported atop disk-shaped UFOs is, I strongly suspect, simply an anti-aircraft burst that occurred a second or so before the picture was snapped. Also, as I think about it, the searchlight beams we saw simply converged on the object and did not extend beyond it, although after sixty-one years, I can't be certain. And the fuzzy lozenge shape I remember seeing does jibe with the much closer image in the photograph. By the way, did he (Calvert) use a telescopic lens? I strongly suspect he did, as they were available in the early 1940s, though not for Speed Graphics, which would mean that he used his private camera, perhaps a Leica. In this connection, I'm willing to be that at least one other person had the presence of mind to photograph the object during t hour r so t was visible from Santa Monica to Orange County. Indeed, one or more pictures of it might still be lurking in local family albums. Maybe we should put out a call on the internet asking for folks in Southern California to search their family albums and snapshot collections from that era."


THE EXPERTS

PAUL T. COLLINS:

Fate Magazine, Volume 40, Number 7, Issue 448, July, 1987, in an article by Paul T. Collins under the title WORLD WAR II UFO SCARE presented the following regarding the same event:



WORLD WAR II UFO SCARE



"On Wednesday, February 25, 1942, as war raged in Europe and Asia, at least a million Southern Californians awoke to the scream of air-raid sirens as Los Angeles County cities blacked out at 2:25 AM. Many dozed off again while 12,000 air raid wardens reported faithfully to their posts, most of them expecting nothing more than a dress rehearsal for a possible future event - an invasion of the United States by Japan. At 3:36, however, they were shocked and their slumbering families rudely roused again, this time by sounds unfamiliar to most Americans outside the military services. "

The roar of the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade's antiaircraft batteries jolted them out of bed and before they could get to the windows the flashing 12.8 pound shells were detonating with a heavy, ominous boomp - boomp - boomp and the steel was already raining down. All radio stations had been ordered off the air at 3:08. But the news was being written with fingers of light three miles high on a clear star-studded blackboard 30 miles long."

FATE MAGAZINE: World War II UFO Scare


Littleton was pretty much the avowed expert on the 1942 Battle of Los Angeles if for nothing else than his early promotion of his book just at the rise of the internet, creating a volume of backup works and links. As an expert, he does however recognize regularly another "expert" on the subject who also witnessed the event that night, only a few miles south of Littleton's Hermosa Beach 2500 Strand location, in Redondo Beach. Littleton, in his officially published hardback book 2500 STRAND, in the footnote section "Notes to Chapter Four #42" uses to substantiate what he has presented, and what pretty much replicates what is found in the same quote as used in the main text here above, the following about "Another eyewitness, who lived in Redondo Beach" saying the eyewitness:


"(R)ecalls that it descended as it passed slowly over his family home. His father at first thought it was coming in for a landing, perhaps at the nearby Lomita airstrip, and he and several neighbors jumped into a car and tried to follow the object. But it soon regained altitude and passed over the hills to the south. He also claims that the 'stern' of the craft was rectangular, with rounded edges, and very thick."


THE NOT SO EXPERTS: THE UNSUNG EYEWITNESSES

OTHERWISE KNOWN AS REGULAR PEOPLE:


"The giant object, before reaching Redondo, had overflown a good portion of the whole of the western area of Los Angeles after having paralleled the north side of the Santa Monica Mountains before crossing over them southbound into the basin then turning directly south along the coast near present day LAX and the El Segundo oil refinery and tank farm. In the process it caused nothing but an area wide blackout, anti-aircraft fire all over the city while withstanding some 1440 direct anti aircraft rounds before it escaped unscathed --- an object of which I along with my entire family were clearly able to see that night after it turned diagonally inland over Redondo Beach just past the Edison plant but before reaching the pier. Guns and sirens and searchlights were all over the place and even though it was two or three in the morning almost everybody on our whole block who could, got up to go outside to see it."

TIKE KARAVAS: The Wanderling and His High School Chums


The Redondo Beach witness is the author of The Battle of Los Angeles: 1942 UFO. The primary difference between Littleton's and the Redondo Beach eyewitness approach to the subject is that Littleton's L.A. Battle concentrates slightly on the object coming in over L.A. but mainly on what he saw as it passed his house on the Strand. When the object approached Redondo Beach and turned inland then south is where the main concentration of the Redondo Beach witness picks up, although he covers both the approach at 120 miles out and it's disappearance out over Long Beach quite extensively --- including a number of valid personal interviews with a number of eyewitnesses who experienced it going over Redondo and south, an area where Littleton's works are a little weak.

In light of that, the following three eyewitness reports are the results of interviews with the individuals so involved by the Littleton's Redondo Beach eyewitness, and done so by the Redondo Beach man personally, all three picking up after the object passed Littleton's house and turned south over Redondo:


EYEWITNESS ONE:

Within minutes of the Littleton sighting, just south of the Edison steam plant another eyewitness confirmed the object turned diagonally inland toward the south-southeast flying almost directly over the top of the Happy Hour Cafe at 400 Strand, Redondo Beach, owned by the infamous Fifie Malouf.

The following, describing that eyewitness account, is found at the Fifie Malouf link:


"(O)ne night in February 1942 right there on the Strand a huge, giant object, as big as a locomotive, came in off the ocean and flew right over the top of the Happy Hour Cafe and the apartments. (I) had heard a ruckus going on outside, sirens, guns firing, all kinds of stuff, so (I) went out on to the Strand only to see this 'thing' a few hundred feet above the beach slowly glide overhead off the ocean, not making a sound and, because of its length, taking forever to pass over."


EYEWITNESS TWO:

As the object approached the top of the hill as it sloped up from the beach, it's path was picked up by a man named Edwards. Edwards, along with his father, owned and operated a neighborhood store on Garnet Street maybe a mile or so inland. The younger Edwards grew up in Redondo Beach and lived in a house on Juanita Avenue just up the street from the store almost on the top of the crest of the Garnet Street hill. Edwards was probably in his early 30s or so in 1942 when the object crossed right over his house. The following is how he recalled the event:


"(Edwards) was awakened in the darkened pre-dawn hours by what he thought was the sound of gunfire. Then the house began to rattle, then shudder, causing a few things to fall off the shelves as though a bulldozer or a freight train had gone by right out front of the house on the sidewalk or something. He ran outside just barely catching a glimpse of what he said looked like the dark black hull of a 'flying ship' cresting over and going down the hill toward Torrance Boulevard. He raced inside, threw on a pair of shoes and a jacket over his pajamas and ran out to the top of the hill thinking all along that whatever it was crashed into the houses on Lucia Street or into the oil fields beyond. When he got to the top of the hill none of the houses were destroyed, nothing was on fire, and there was no sign of the object."(source)


EYEWITNESS THREE:

Then, not very many minutes after it had been seen in the sky over Redondo Beach, the object was out over the agriculture fields that existed in those days a few miles inland east and south of the beach cities. That same night Albert Nozaki was helping guard a friend's field from vandals that had been ruining crops. Below describes what Nozaki saw that night in the early morning hours:


"(A)pproaching him well above the fields from the west, silhouetted against the slightly lighter night sky, was a fairly huge dark airborne object coming straight toward him at a fairly quick pace. At first it seemed as though it would take a path off to the right of where he was standing, but before it reached him it just barely began turning flatly toward the south, almost as in a controlled drift. By then he was just under the edge of the object as it went over him with the center off to his left, continuing its turn and eventually disappearing in the southern night sky while all the time gaining altitude. It was huge, dark, very long and wide with no lights or signs of windows. Although it did not have protruding wings like an airplane, the object's outside edges ominously curved down. As well, other than feeling a slight vibrational 'hum' in his chest as it passed over, the object made no sound."


Nozaki, who later went on to be an Oscar nominated art director, apparently drawing upon his his experiences in the field that night in 1942, designed the terrifying Martian flying machines seen in the 1953 movie War of the Worlds. Without any real answers to what the object might have been, a strong string of out-of-this world extra-terrestrial connontations has blanketed the phenomenon, of which such an angle, pro and con, is explored as found in The Battle of Los Angeles: 1942 UFO.




EYE WITNESS FOUR: BEFORE REACHING LOS ANGELES

Long before the object reached the Los Angeles basin or ever passed along the coast just above the surf line in front of Littleton's Hermosa Beach home --- or even turned inland when it got to Redondo Beach --- it came in out over the Pacific Ocean off the California coast miles from Los Angeles at an extremely high rate of speed north and west of Point Conception. At 0144 AM military crews manning equipment and scopes of a secret radar site tucked into the bluffs and hills picked up an unidentified aerial target on a south to east trajectory and has been officially reported since thusly:


"At 0144 an SCR-268 picked up an unidentifiable aerial target 120 miles west of Los Angeles...well tracked by radar."

History of the 4th AA Command, Western Defense Command,
January 9 1942 -July 1, 1945, Chapter V Defense Operations on the West Coast.
(3)Par 5, App B, Doc 29 (Conference Report, 25 Feb 42)


Sixteen minutes later, after receiving data from two additional radar sites down it's path, the object was backtracked to a confirmed position 120 miles west of, and quickly closing in on, the city of Los Angeles. At 2:15 AM Los Angeles area anti-aircraft batteries were put on Green Alert --- ready to fire --- and at 2:21 AM the regional controller ordered a blackout. Then, several minutes shy of passing into the city of Santa Monica's air space and the path of the waiting anti-aircraft guns, the object vanished. Nineteen minutes later residents of the Pacific Palisades and the surrounding area observed a huge airborne object east of them rising up over the Santa Monica Mountains from out of the north. At 3:06 AM at least four of the Santa Monica area anti-aircraft batteries turned inland toward the object and started firing out over the city following it's track toward Baldwin Hills.

After being picked up by radar but before it reached Littleton's house along the strand in Hermosa Beach the object paralleled the coast line along Malibu at an ultra high speed and at a very low altitude. Then for reasons not known as the object reached an area somewhat east of Point Dume it slowed to almost a complete crawl turning sharply northward skimming over the crest of the mountains and down as if to gain an advantage of being in the radar shadow. After crossing the mountains it turned eastward almost immediately coming into the L.A. basin behind the west facing radar and anti aircraft guns.

It was just after the object turned north at Point Dume, but before it finished crossing over the mountains and turned north to follow the bottom edges of lower north slopes on the way to Los Angeles that we pick up the first eyewitness...


...TO BE CONTINUED

(SOMEDAY, MAYBE)

ANNA JONES

















Above is a graphic of the Constellation Centaurus in stop motion looking south. Notice the grouping of the stars and how they compare to the 1942 black and white time lapse photo as seen at the top of the page and directly below. Although more centered in the constellation one and slightly off to the right in the searchlight one, taking into consideration of the movement, the star groups can be made out fairly well. The southern view in the black and white photo, in that it is was taken facing south, it must have been taken over the Baldwin Hills or possibly the Santa Monica Mountains and not so much so from the backside or northside of Mt. Lee (where the Hollywood sign is, which faces south). In any case, if such is the case, the searchlights would be coming from the city of Santa Monica's anti-aircraft installations, wedged between Baldwin Hills and the coast.



The standard L.A. Times photographs of searchlights over the city, as seen below, that depicts what is often considered to be an illuminated object, was taken from a location other than the one as used on this page, albeit said to be at around the same time (i.e., the time of the attack). Notice the much wider dispersion of the searchlights, unlike the top one, they seem to be coming from all across the city.