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Newspaper Article:

Denis Biwerse (1912-1994)

[Denis Biwerse was my first cousin twice removed.]

The Sheboygan Press, 3 September 1943:

Lieut. Commander Biwerse,
Survivor Of Panay And South
Pacific Battles, Visits Here

Lieut. Commander Dennis Biwerse, veteran of Pearl Harbor and naval engagements in the South Pacific area, is visiting in Sheboygan with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Michael Biwerse. He is here with his wife and 4-year-old daughter, Lucille [sic], and in the near future expects to return to the west coast where he will await active call to duty.

Not that he hasn't seen active duty already.

There is every indication that he has seen a lot of it, but he is reluctant to discuss those things. Under pressure, however, he will admit that he received shrapnel wounds in one of the battles and that he has served under the admirals of virtually every allied nation.

Was Panay Survivor

Being shot at by the Japanese is no novelty for this 31-year-old hero who had the unique, if unpleasant experience of being wounded by the Japs long before the United States and Japan ever got into a war. That was at Nanking, China, back in December, 1937, when, without warning, a Jap plane bombed and strafed the Panay, an American river boat, to which he and other naval men were assigned.

The date -- December 12, 1937, within five days, and four years, of the now infamous December 7.

That was the first time he felt the wrath and the steel of the Nipponese. He doesn't say anything about it, but it is doubtful if he has ever forgotten that experience. That time he could not fight back -- this time he can, and has, but he won't discuss it.

However, he is willing to talk, again under pressure, about the Japanese as an enemy.

Helped By Surprise

"The Jap is a formidable foe," he will admit, but he qualifies this with the statement that, "The Jap looked even more formidable at the beginning of the war, because he got off to a head start. He had the element of surprise with him. The surprises by the Japs are over now, so he doesn't look so good now."

Neither is it 100 per cent true that the Jap will commit hari kari rather than be taken prisoner. To his knowledge possibly one out of four committing suicide, if that many, would be more like it. From what he has seen of Jap prisoners, he believe that fear of what may happen to them is one reason for suicide before capture.

Believe Us Beasts

"The Japs have been led to believe that the Americans and Allies are some kind of beasts," says Lieut. Commander Biwerse. "They expect atrocities and when, instead, they are given food and clothing, such treatment is beyond their comprehension. They just can't figure it out that they haven't been scalped and tortured by the American 'savages'."

Whether they like it or not, there is one form of suicide that the Japs go in for -- under orders, of course.

That is in the use of the small two-man submarines that carry two torpedoes. Those two torpedoes are intended for the Allied Nations and what happens to the Japs after they have fired them doesn't seem to make much difference. These subs are released from the mother ship some distance from where the torpedoes are to be launched, and then the mother ship goes on her way.

"Suicide" Subs

The chances of a two-man submarine ever finding its mother ship are indeed slim, therefore.

The Jap subs are small, built like a cigar in shape. They are about 60 to 62 feet in length and about 8 to 10 feet in diameter. Small men are needed to man them.

The reality of the present war was brought home promptly and dreadfully to Lieut. Commander Biwerse that fateful morning of December 7 at Pearl Harbor. While he had enough to do in the line of duty, he survived that without a scratch.

Since then he has been in the Solomons, the Indian ocean, Java sea and other points in the South Pacific.

A graduate of Annapolis, Lieut. Commnder Biwerse has been in the U. S. navy nine years. While he is enjoying his visit immensely, he is hoping that his call to return to duty will come soon after his return to Long Beach, Calif.

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