Jan 14


220px-Japanese_fire_balloon_moffetRESEARCH: While researching World War II history for my latest novel, Mrs. Odboddy’s Wartime Adventure, I found another little known piece of history.

BOMB DROPPED IN BROOKINGS, OREGON: In September, 1942, a Japanese submarine off the coast of Oregon launched a float plane loaded with two 76 kilogram incendiary bombs, which it succeeded in dropping in the Siskiyou National Forest, near Brookings, Oregon. A forest fire ensued. The fire was spotted by a fire lookout tower on Mount Emily and two rangers were dispatched to the site. They were able to control the fire throughout the night until a fire crew arrived the next morning. A recent rain had kept the area wet which helped the fire crews contain the blaze.
According to records reviewed after the war, the floatplane carried two bombs. Though both were dropped, no trace was found of the second bomb.

BALLOON BOMBS: Between 1944 and 1945, the Japanese hatched a new plot to attack and torment the American citizens. They launched more than 9,000 air-balloon bombs, 70 feet tall with a 33 foot diameter made of paper and filled with hydrogen. Each carried an anti-personnel bomb and two incendiary bombs. These were launched during the fall and carried across the Pacific Ocean in about three days via the jet stream at an altitude of 30,000 feet.
Three hundred sixty one of the balloons were found in 26 states, Canada and Mexico. Several were found in San Pedro, near Redding and near Santa Rosa, California. It is likely that more balloon bombs landed in unpopulated areas of North America.
CONSEQUENCES: Some of the balloon bombs were sighted by citizens and dispatched by fighter pilots. Others landed in populated areas and caused some degree of damage by igniting fires. One fatality and 22 injuries resulted from subsequent fires caused by the balloons.

TRAGIC RESULTS: In May, 1945, while picnicking, a balloon bomb was found by a woman and five children. A witness warned them away, but before they could retreat, the bomb exploded, creating a 1-foot deep, 3-foot wide hole and killing the woman and all the children. Their cause of their death was withheld from the public and stated “the six were killed by an explosion of unannounced cause.” Later the site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and a monument built. The six are the only known deaths in the continental USA as a result of enemy action during WWII. Japanese visitors have since visited the monument to plant cherry trees as a symbol of peace.
BLACK-OUT: Due to a press black-out during the year of the attacks, no evidence of the success of the program reached Japan and the mission was considered a total fiasco, thus the program was abandoned.

POST WWII: The remains of balloons continued to be discovered during the 1940’s and 1950’s and two in the 1960’s.

Do you know an interesting bit of history related to WWII? Can you share it on this site?


  1. Michael Faber says:

    Wow! I never knew. Goes to show you how the press fuels terrorism

    • Elaine Faber says:

      The things we don't know about history could fill more than one book! thanks for looking

      • Helene says:

        Nice seeing you again Linda. And thanks for outing me as a chatty cathy. I may never live that down.I di17#&82dn;t look nearly as drunk as I was. Bobby 1Alcohol 0

  2. Sherri Bergmann says:

    VERY interesting, Elaine!

    • Elaine Faber says:

      Thanks for visiting my site. Hope you find time to read some of my previous posts about other mysteries and things of interest.

  3. Marja McGraw says:

    Fascinating information. Several of my relatives were involved in WWII, but the stories are too long to post. One was an MIA in the Pacific. Thank you so much for sharing this. Again, fascinating!

  4. During WWII we lived in San Francisco, less than ten blocks from the beach. Blackouts, when all lights were extinguished, were precautionary measures taken in case there might be Japanese planes overhead or submarines off the coast.

    One night during a blackout our Dad was working late. Mom wanted my sister and I to have dinner at the regular time, so she improvised.

    She put a card table in the closet and served us food on our play dishes. We ate dinner by candlelight and thought it was great fun!

    Through actions like that Mom and Dad handled our fears, so that sis and I were able to live a more or less normal life during those four years of war.

    Thanks, Mom and Dad, for that extraordinary gift.

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