Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The "Battle of Los Angeles" - A First-Hand Account

There was a lot said at the recent International UFO Congress near Phoenix, Arizona, about the supposed "Battle of Los Angeles" on the night of February 24-25, 1942, when many rounds of anti-aircraft shells were fired at - what
The heavily-retouched photo of the incident that was published in the Los Angeles Times. The white dots are fragments from exploding shells.

David Marler at the 2014 UFO Congress
David Marler, a diligent researcher, has accumulated an impressive collection of photos, newspaper stories, and other materials concerning the incident. I reviewed his talk at the Congress in a recent posting  (also see the comments section). His conclusion is that something unusual was up there, but he doesn't know what.

But for a different take on the matter, let us examine a first-hand account of the "battle" written by Col. John G. Murphy, who not only witnessed the shelling, but participated in an official investigation of the incident. Serious researchers realize that, the closer in time is an account to the event it describes, the more likely it is to be accurate.

Col. Murphy wrote, "We interrogated approximately 60 witnesses - civilians, Army, Navy and Air commissioned and enlisted personnel... Roughly about half the witnesses were sure they saw planes in the sky." Given that no planes were ever sent up - not ours nor any Japanese - here we see another example that cautions us against taking "eyewitness accounts" at face value.


Antiaircraft Journal

published by the United States Coast Artillery Association

L.A. "Attacked"

by Col. John G. Murphy, CAC

There were no enemy air attacks on the West Coast. There were two submarine attacks by gunfire-one on Ft. Stevens, Oregon, and one on some oil docks north of Los Angeles. However there were many alerts, many blackouts. many alarms, and the antiaircraft troops were always in a pertinent condition of readiness. Prior to the battle of Midway there was a distinct tenseness all along the West Coast. We believed the Jap would attack Midway, but we also knew he could change his plans and attack any of the important cities of the West Coast. AA troops during this period were ready for any action. They were always ready for action, albeit sometimes overready or maybe even gullible-as was shown by the famous "Battle of Los Angeles." On Feb 26, 1942, the author was on a Staff visit to the 37th Brigade. Sometime after midnight I was awakened by the sound of gunfire. A quick glance through the window was not productive of any enlightening information. A quick trip to the roof of the hotel brought reward for the upward toil. It was a beautiful moonlight night, but the moon's magnificence was dwarfed by the brilliant glare of nineties and three-inchers spewing fire to the heavens, the glare and noise of the bursting shells, the delicate sky tracery of red and green forty-millimeters and fifty-calibers arching lazily through the skies, and the brilliant incandescence of the searchlights probing the heavens, hither and yon-up and down.

A beautiful picture - a grand show! But at what were they firing? Imagination could have easily disclosed many shapes in the sky in the midst of that weird symphony of noise and color. But cold detachment disclosed no planes of any type in the sky-friendly or enemy. And suddenly all was quiet and only the light of the moon relieved the grim picture of a city in total blackout. I lingered on the roof, ruminated on what it was all about and was idly wondering if I could find my way to brigade headquarters through the blackout when all hell broke loose again. A cacophony of sound and a glaring brilliance again pervaded all! But soon it was over and quiet and darkness again descended on the awakened city. On my way to brigade headquarters next morning, screaming headlines in the morning papers told of the many Jap planes brought down in flames. At brigade headquarters there was much gloom. No one knew exactly what had happened. Maj. Gen. Jacob Fickel and Col. (later Maj. Gen.) Samuel Kepner flew down from San Francisco and with the writer constituted a board to investigate the firing. We interrogated approximately 60 witnesses-civilians, Army, Navy and Air commissioned and enlisted personnel.

Roughly about half the witnesses were sure they saw planes in the sky. One flier vividly described 10 planes in V formation. The other half saw nothing. The elevation operator of an antiaircraft director looking through his scope saw many planes. His azimuth operator looking through a parallel scope on the same instrument did not see any planes. Among the facts developed was that the firing had been ordered by the young Air Force controller on duty at the Fighter Command operations room. Someone reported a balloon in the skv. He of course visualized a German or Japanese zeppelin. Someone tried to explain it was not that kind of balloon, but he was adamant and ordered firing to start (which he had no authority to do). Once the firing started, imagination created all kinds of targets in the sky and everyone joined in. Well after all these years, the true story can be told. One of the AA Regiments (we still had Regiments) sent up a meteorological balloon about 1:00 AM. That was the balloon that started all the shooting! When quiet had settled down on the "embattled" City of the Angels, a different regiment, alert and energetic as always. decided some "met" data was needed. Felt it had not done so well in the "battle" and thought a few weather corrections might help. So they sent up a balloon, and hell broke loose again. (Note: Both balloons, as I remember, floated away majestically and safely.) But the inhabitants of Los Angeles felt very happy. They had visual and auricular assurance that they were well protected. And the AA gunners were happy! They had fired more rounds than they would have been authorized to fire in 10 peacetime years' target practices.


  1. UFO worshipers can turn anything into one of their tawdry cases. This is one of the more hilarious ones.

    Leonard Stringfield (surely one of the most gullible and least rigorous "researchers") once told me that the famous BOLA photo was, by his estimation, the very best photographic evidence for UFO's.

    Of course, now we know that the photo was mostly a painted concoction on top of a much less dramatic real photo.

    I suspect that Stringfield was still correct since UFO's actually only live in the fevered and hopes and dreams of those with a tenuous connection to reality. One crappy photo of prosaic mediocrity is as good as any other.


    1. Indeed, Lance.
      Where are the pictures of such convincing evidence that even rabid skeptics are struck dumb?
      Much like the stories of 'Bigfoot' as argued to death on your own blog and discussed to no rational conclusion on 'Crytomumdo', it is an issue of 'woo'. Something that raises such intense interest in people, but is based on unfounded 'evidence'.
      Woe to the skeptic who hopes to find such 'woo' well backed and supported.
      It's strange how it was actually Kevin Randle's book 'A History of UFO Crashes' which started me on the path of the skeptic, how he convinced me that, despite the stories and questionable witnesses, only incredible claims with unbroken chains of evidence were really worth investigating in the first place.
      UFO excitement and the reality of anti-science has turned the most reasonable and logical explanations for strange events into a fucking industry based primarily on wishful thinking and backed by a excited amount of wank.
      Such are my views on this and a number of other subjects.

      Thanks for reading,

  2. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CU2LJfriUP0

    Could you please watch this video that purports that they want us to believe in superior alien race in order to defeat racism!

  3. My Mom was a witness as a teenager in California. She told me years ago, it was balloons she observed.

  4. I'm curious about one thing, though. How could all these shells not bring down a weather balloon???

  5. It is harder to bring down a weather balloon than one might think. As this incident proves. I will take the word of the Artillery on this over some whacamundo CT any day.as Col Murphy states above, much of the fire was mis-aimed or the altitude timing was inaccurate. Keep in mind that they were firing shells with timed fuses, proximity fuses had not yet been issued this early in the war.

  6. C'mon guys, does a 'difficult to shoot down' weather balloon amount to a visiting alien spacecraft?
    Forget about the many, many difficulties involved in inter-stellar travel and the grim facts related to astro-physics, forget about all of that if your personal belief system demands.
    But still, do these questions about the event in general lead anyone logically to a fucking inter-planetary, visiting alien space-craft?

    C'mon folks!

    All the best,

  7. My name is John Sosman. Colonel Murphy was my maternal grandfather. Thank you. I have never seen any of his writings until now.


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