During the night and morning of February 24-25 1942, things were seen flying over southern California and a citywide blackout was declaired from the Mexican border to the San Joaquin Valley. A yellow alert lasted from about 7:18 pm and was called off at 10:23 pm. A blackout was called at 2:25am until 7:21am. Some witnesses reported many aircraft. A Los Angeles Times cover photo the next day showed a single huge orb illuminated by eight searchlights and surrounded by artillery bursts.
At least 1,440 rounds of anti-aircraft artillery were fired at the target or targets. This shower of shrapnel over LA caused extensive damage to homes, cars, and roads. There were also many injuries and about six deaths atrtibuted to the artillery barrage. Reports conflict, but the shrapnel apparently killed one or two people directly, two or three died of a heart attacks, and at least one fatal car crash was attributed to the hours-long bombardment. A heard of dairy cows were also caught in the attack, and an unknown number of cattle were injured or killed.
Witnesses saw planes flying around the object or objects but the Army and Navy claimed no American planes had been sent up to intercept, even though planes had been standing by. The Army explanation the next day was that nothing had actually been seen at all. The Navy said it was just war time jitters.
The New York Times on 28 February suggested that the official explanations of the Army and Navy left a great deal to be desired:
If the batteries were firing on nothing at all, as Secretary (of the Navy) Knox implies, it is a sign of expensive incompetence and jitters. If the batteries were firing on real planes, some of them as low as 9,000 feet, as Secretary (of the Army) Stimson declares, why were they completely ineffective? Why did no American planes go up to engage them, or even to identify them?… What would have happened if this had been a real air raid?
After the war, the Japanese continued to assert they had not flown any aircraft over Los Angeles that night. This was the only incident during all of World War II in which a mainland American city returned fire at a presumed air attack, and the civilian deaths in Los Angeles are among the only at-home American casualties of war. However the Battle of Los Angeles is very rarely mentioned in any history of either the WWII or of UFOs. It is apparently too inexplicable.
Battle of Los Angeles is also the name of an album by the band Rage Against the Machine.