For the first time in history, the public has been given the chance to explore a sunken Japanese mini-submarine off Sydney’s northern beaches.
Located off Bungan Head, Newport, the M24 was one of three Japanese midget submarines that entered Sydney Harbour in 1942 during World War II.
Two groups of divers had the chance to dive to the submarine after winning a public ballot* to remember the events of 1942.
The M24 is the only remaining midget submarine in the water from the attack.
Richard Nicholls, one of the divers permitted to access the site, said conditions were fantastic for the dive and the group enjoyed amazing underwater visibility*.
“One of the great joys of diving is being able to go back into the past and it was a terrific experience to see the submarine wreck teeming* with fish — new life that’s come from a tragedy,” he said.
The tragedy Mr Nicholls referred to happened after the three mini-submarines secretly cruised into Sydney Harbour and launched an attack that would bring the Second World War to the city’s doorstep.
Twenty-one Australian and British sailors were killed and another 10 injured when a converted* ferry, the HMAS Kuttabul, was sunk by a torpedo in the surprise naval attack.
The aim of the three two-man submarines was simple – to sink the USS Chicago and any other allied warships inside the harbour.
However, two of the vessels were spotted causing their crews to let off devices on board and take their own lives.
A full-scale* search of the harbour found the third submarine, which escaped fire and launched two torpedos at the USS Chicago. The torpedos missed but one of the explosions split the HMAS Kuttabul in half causing the tragic deaths.
Two of the submarines were recovered from the water shortly after the attack and are now at the Australian War Memorial.
The M24 submarine was not discovered until 2006 by a group of amateur* divers and is a protected Commonwealth Government Historic Shipwreck and is also listed on the NSW State Heritage Register.
The site is managed by the NSW Heritage Division Office of Environment and Heritage through its Maritime Heritage Program.
There are penalties of up to $1.1 million for disturbing the site.
public ballot: when the public enter for the chance to do something.
visibility: being able to see
teeming: full of
converted: change the look of something or the way it works
full-scale: complete and thorough
amateur: not professional
LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY
a) Why were the three Japanese midget submarines in waters off Sydney and what happened to them?
b) Can you think of one advantage and one disadvantage of using submarines during wartime?
c) What are your thoughts about the Japanese crews of the submarines? Can you think of any ways that they may have been like their Australian and British enemies?
d) How were divers chosen to visit the sunken submarine and why do you think they were chosen this way?
Extension: Do you think more divers should be allowed to dive at the site of the sunken submarine or should they be kept away? Write a persuasive argument explaining your point of view.
Time: Allow 30 minutes
Curriculum links: English, History, Critical and Creative Thinking
2. Then and Now
Fold a sheet of paper into two columns and head each side with the headings “1942” and “2000s”. Under each heading write three pieces of information relating to the submarines in 1942 and now in more recent times.
Extension: Draw a picture to accompany the two sets of facts, showing the submarines during World War II and now.
Time: Allow 20 minutes
Curriculum links: English, History
Verb adventures: With a partner see if you can you identify all the doing words/verbs in this text? Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb- make sure it still makes the context it was taken from.
Try and see if you can replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.
Curriculum Links: English, Big Write and VCOP
IN ONE SENTENCE, TELL US WHAT YOU LIKE ABOUT TODAY’S STORY
Please do not use one-word answers. Tell us exactly what you liked about the article, using lots of adjectives.