“Firing, first heard at 3 a.m., ceased suddenly at 3:30 a.m., after the object disappeared south of Signal Hill, at the east edge of Long Beach. Anti-aircraft guns fired steadily for two minute periods, were silent for about 45 seconds, and continued that routine for nearly a half an hour.” This 30 minute barrage of anti-aircraft fire from the United States military could not take down the object.
Raid Scare Blacks Out Southland, but Knox Claims ‘False Alarm’
Washington(AP)-Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox said today that there were no planes over Los Angeles last night. “That’s our understanding,” he said. He added that “none have been found and a very wide reconnaissance has been carried on.” He added, “it was just a false alarm.”
Anti-aircraft guns thundered over the metropolitan area early today for the first time in the war, but hours later what they were shooting at remained a military secret. An unidentified object moving slowly down the coast from Santa Monica was variously reported as a balloon and an airplane.
No bombs were dropped and no planes were shot down during the anti-aircraft firing in the Los Angeles area, the western defense command said in San Francisco.
“Cities in the Los Angeles area were blacked out at 2:25 a.m. today on orders from the fourth interceptor command when unidentified aircraft were reported in the area,” the western defense command said.
“Although reports are conflicting and every effort is being made to ascertain the facts, it is clear that no bombs were dropped and no planes were shot down.”
“There was a considerable amount of anti-aircraft firing. The all-clear signal came at 7:25 a.m.”
Army Scoffs at Civilian Reports
Army intelligence, although uncommunicative, scoffed at reports of civilian observers that as many as 200 planes were over the area.
There were no reports of dropping bombs, but several instances of damaged property from anti-aircraft shells. A garage door was ripped off in a Los Angeles residential district and fragments of shattered windows tore into a bed where a few moments before Miss Blanch Sedgewick and her niece, Josie Duffy had been sleeping.
A Santa Monica bomb squad was dispatched to remove an unexploded anti-aircraft shell in a driveway there.
Wailing air raid sirens at 2:25 a.m. awakened most of the metropolitan’s three million citizens. A few minutes later they were treated to a gigantic Fourth-of-July-like display as huge searchlights flashed along a 10-mile front to the south, converging on a single spot high in the sky. Moments later the anti-aircraft guns opened up, throwing a sheet of steel skyward. Tracer bullets and exploding shells lit the heavens. (note by blog author: The United States military did not manage to hit a single thing with nearly thirty minutes of anti-aircraft fire.)
Police ran down several reports that planes had been shot down, but said all were false alarms.
Aircraft factories continued operating behind blackened windows, while ack-ack guns rattled from batteries stationed near-by.
Radio stations went off the air with the first alert, and were not permitted to resume broadcasting until 8:23 a.m.
There was speculation, that the unidentified object, might have been a blimp-although veteran lighter-then-air-experts in Akron, OH, the nations center of such construction, said Japan was believed to have lost interest in such craft following experiments in World War I. These sources said inability to obtain fire proof helium caused discarding of such plans.
Observers lent some credence to the blimp theory by pointing out that the object required nearly thirty minutes to travel 20 or 25 miles-far slower then an airplane.
Unidentified Planes Pass Over Harbor
AN official source which declined to be quoted directly told The Associated Press in Los Angeles that United States Army Planes quickly went into action. Later however, another official said no United States craft had taken off because of possible danger from the army’s own anti-aircraft fire.
A newspaper man at San Pedro said airplanes passed over the Los Angeles-Long Beach harbor area. The craft were not identified.
There were no reports of any attempt to bomb southern California from the air although many war-vital factories, shipyards and other defense industries were on the route the object followed.
Although some watchers said they saw airplanes in the air, semi-official sources said they probably were the United States Army’s pursuits.
All the action, clearly spotlighted for ground observers by 20 or so searchlights, was just a few miles west of Los Angeles proper.
Object Disappears Over Signal Hill
Observers said the object appeared to be 8000 ft or higher.
Firing, first heard at 3 a.m., ceased suddenly at 3:30 a.m., after the object disappeared south of Signal Hill, at the east edge of Long Beach. Anti-aircraft guns fired steadily for two minute periods, were silent for about 45 seconds, and continued that routine for nearly a half an hour. EVERY SINGLE SHOT MISSED THE BLIMP.
All of southern California from the San Juaquin valley to the Mexican border was blacked out. Los Angeles doused its lights first, at 2:25 a.m.. San Diego, just 17 miles from the border did not receive its lights out order until 3:05 a.m.