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The Battle of Los Angeles: 69 Years Later, Still No Explanation

CULVER CITY, Calif., Feb. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Tomorrow marks the 69th anniversary of The Battle of Los Angeles, which remains one of the strangest events of WWII and is still a mystery to this day.  The event took place during the night between February 24-25, 1942.  Never fully explained, these events remain shrouded in mystery and the subject of intense speculation.

Beginning shortly after 2 am on February 25, and throughout the night, unidentified objects were reported over Los Angeles and the threat was so unusual that air raid sirens were sounded, and a total blackout was ordered.  At 3:16 am, the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade began firing 12.8-pound antiaircraft shells at the objects – more than 1,400 shells were fired over the next 58 minutes as the objects moved south, from Santa Monica to Long Beach.

"The obvious thought was that these were Japanese bombers come to attack the United States," says UFO expert Bill Birnes, publisher of UFO magazine.  "But it wasn't.  They were flying too high.  And the astounding thing was, not one artillery shell could hit the craft – out of all the hundreds of shells that were fired.  People outside that night swore that it was neither a plane nor a balloon – it was a UFO.  It floated, it glided.  And to this day, nobody can explain what that craft was, why our anti-aircraft guns couldn't hit it – it's a mystery that's never been resolved."

Descriptions of the UFOs varied widely.  General George C. Marshall, in his initial memo to President Roosevelt regarding the event, wrote that the "unidentified airplanes... [traveled at speeds ranging from] 'very slow' to as much as 200 mph and from elevations of 9000 to 18,000 feet."  (The memo may be viewed at http://www.militarymuseum.org/BattleofLA.html.)  The number of craft reported by observers ranged from 9 to 15 to 25.

At first, officials offered a very vague explanation.  According to the Los Angeles Times (February 26, 1942), the secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, dismissed the event as a "false alarm" due to "jittery nerves," but when this failed to satisfy the press and the public, the Army responded with a definitive answer that the craft and the battle were real, and the next day, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson confirmed that.  Santa Monica's US Representative, Leland Ford, was quoted in the Times on February 27 calling for a Congressional investigation into the incident, but this went nowhere.  In the years since, various explanations have been offered – from Japanese planes to German craft launched from secret bases in Mexico to unidentified aircraft to weather balloons to sky lanterns to blimps.

However, it is also alleged that General Marshall reported that the Army had recovered an unidentified aircraft off the coast of California that indicated that the "mystery airplanes are in fact not earthly and according to secret intelligence sources they are in all probability of interplanetary origin."

What was this event – just a sighting?  Or could it have been something else – a scouting mission, reconnaissance for a coming invasion?  For years, there have been documented cases of UFO sightings around the world, like the one in Los Angeles in 1942, but in Columbia Pictures' Battle: Los Angeles, what were once just sightings will become a terrifying reality when Earth is attacked by unknown forces.  As people everywhere watch the world's great cities fall, Los Angeles becomes one of the last stands for mankind in a battle no one expected.  It's up to a Marine staff sergeant (Aaron Eckhart) and his new platoon to draw a line in the sand as they take on an enemy unlike any they've ever encountered before.  The film is directed by Jonathan Liebesman, written by Chris Bertolini, and produced by Neal H. Moritz and Ori Marmur.  The film will be released on March 11, 2011.

To learn more about this movie or the real Battle of Los Angeles of 1942, please contact your Columbia Pictures representative.

About Sony Pictures Entertainment

Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation.  SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production and distribution; television production and distribution; home entertainment acquisition and distribution; a global channel network; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; development of new entertainment products, services and technologies; and distribution of entertainment in more than 140 countries.  Sony Pictures Entertainment can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.sonypictures.com.

SOURCE Sony Pictures Entertainment



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