You are an American soldier in the middle of World War 2 stationed on California’s West Coast. It’s been an arduous three months since the surprise attack on Pearl Harbour. Your CO has ordered you to keep an eye out for possible Japanese sneak attacks. Just last night, a submarine was spotted further north, attempting to destroy an oil refinery – a key target in a conflict that had raged for years now. It is now just after 2 am. What was that?
That is the question that historians, veterans, investigators and the general public have been pondering for 70 years now. What was that thing? Was there anything really there?
- A barrage balloon?
- A Top Secret or covert Black Ops development?
- The Japanese Air Force?
- A blimp?
- Or something else completely?
The debate rages on even now. Regardless of what was spotted, the understandable response of a tense and suspicious army was to fire everything it had at the object and blow the thing completely out of the sky. Approximately 15000 shells later, the apparently undamaged object disappears. Six casualties are reported on the ground; confusion surrounds their fate. Popular consensus stated that the shelling was responsible, but cardiac arrests were reported. If the Air raid sirens and the bombardment of AAA guns did anything, it was to wake up the entire city. Witnesses reported everything from single white lights to a giant alien mothership.
Of course, this epic encounter was sandwiched roughly halfway between the infamous War of the Worlds radio broadcast and the Kenneth Arnold sightings. With everything that was taking place, only one man took the time to record the event photographically. This picture, shown in this article, has become one of the most enduring and iconic of all UFO photographs on record. While it has been retouched and restored, a routine practice for most photography of the era, the LA Times has categorically denied any and all accusations that it has somehow doctored or enhanced the photograph. The image does support the notion that something was hovering or moving at the time. A recent curiosity came to light when UFO researcher Ben Hanson (of Fact or Faked) researched the encounter; the negative stored within the LA Times archive was discovered to be a copy and not an original.
The Press and Media had a field day during and shortly after the sighting. CBS reported on the incident as if it were broadcast live but was, in fact, recorded several hours after the last of the shelling had stopped. Press conferences were arranged and held as promptly as could be realistically expected. Some of these insisted on explanations such as false alarms, practice drills and a combination of mass hysteria and vivid imaginations. The official verdict was that the entire episode was caused by a lack of proper knowledge of the primitive radar technology, heightened tensions of the War and what may or may not have happened and general confusion. Surely someone must have realised this at some point during the two or three barrage.
Reports of wreckage being found and shipped off somewhere were denied. It is possible that some of the shelling had somehow been mistaken for debris from whatever was thought to be gliding over the skies that night. It was also thought that the shells themselves were taken to be enemy aircraft and fired upon as well. It cannot be refuted that the War itself was a contributing factor to whatever was going on at the time. Five years before or after might have made a difference. When the conclusion of hostilities arrived, the Japanese military insisted that none of their aircraft or forces were involved in whatever was seen during that particular night-time.
Every side in this fascinating tale has denied any culpability of responsibility, which is likely to mean that The Battle of Los Angeles is a mystery not likely to be solved to any great satisfaction.