My Dad spoke about the famous “Air Raid of Los Angeles,” that took place on February 24th-25th, in the year of 1942. On the 24th at 7:18 p.m. the Naval Intelligence indicated that an attack may take place in the next 10 hours in the Los Angeles area. Civilians were not aware of the alert. After a quiet night the alert was lifted at 10:23 p.m. Servicemen went to bed in a false security that all was well.
My Dad Albert is stationed close to Leuzinger High School, in Lawndale, California. The Army had set up camp, with pitched tents, on a lot nearby. The idea was for soldiers to be close by to use the shower facilities. World War 2 is going strong. My Mom, Lucille, the city girl, lived above a Rexall Drug store on the corner of 147th and Hawthorne Blvd. in Lawndale. The two places are only a ½ a mile apart.
At 2:15 a.m. on the 25th radar picked up an unidentified target west of Los Angeles. Service personal was put on Green Alert, which means “ready to fire.” Radars tracked the approaching target to within a few miles of the coast. At 2:21 a.m. the regional controller ordered a blackout of the vicinity. The local homes in the area had all of their windows covered and no lights were allowed on during these practices. The night was filled with search lights to help spot the enemy.
Dad remember all of the service men jumping up out of the beds in their tents with only their skivvies on. Skivvies were their boxers. Men were bumping into each other, hopping on one foot and trying to put their trousers on the other foot. They had been literally caught with their pants down.
My Mom, remembers looking out her apartment window that faced where the soldiers were camping after being alerted by sirens that there was a raid in progress. Looking at the scene she saw what my Dad had described. “There was such confusion and panic. Bullets were flying through the air. “Looking back, they both would laugh recounting the activity that night.
At this time, although that the two of only lived a short distance apart, they did not know each other. They would meet later in the year on June 14th and would marry July 14th, small world. But that will be a later story.
The information received reports of “enemy planes.” They were reported in Long Beach and over Los Angeles. At 3:06 a.m. a balloon caring a red flare was seen over Santa Monica four batteries of anti-aircraft artillery opened fire. It was reported that “the air over Los Angeles erupted like a volcano.” For three hours 1.490 rounds of anti-aircraft ammunition were directed against the enemy planes. Rumors flew saying that 4 planes had been shot down. One of the planes supposedly had landed in flames at a Hollywood intersections. All reports was proven false later in the day. Luckily the only causality was a heart attack of a civilian. There was a few car accidents reported due to the blackout as well.
Every year Fort MacArthur in San Pedro has a re-enactment of the Air Raid in February. I have attended a few times and I would suggest to all of you. It is rather eerie, as people are in uniform and it seems as though you have stepped back in time. I also went on the S.S. Victory out of San Pedro which sails to Catalina and has a re-enactment on board including a Dog Fight with World War 2 planes. Very informative and fun.