M24 mini-submarine

Divers struck gold when they found World War II Japanese submarine

Japanese midget sub

By Nicole Hasham - SMH

With a couple of tinnies and a second-hand fish finder, they solved a mystery that had confounded maritime experts for more than 64 years.

And for the knockabout group of weekend divers from the northern beaches who stumbled across a midget Japanese submarine six years ago, the accolades keep coming.

First came the lucrative TV deal brokered by celebrity agent Max Markson, which they divvied up to help pay mortgages and travel overseas.

It was followed by a string of prestigious awards, and a newfound respect from the Sydney diving community.

And yesterday, the group was among those honoured at a ceremony at Mona Vale to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the World War II Japanese submarine attack on Sydney Harbour which left the city gripped by fear.

Not bad for a bus driver, an electrician, a plumber, a builder, a mortgage broker and two retirees who still meet every Saturday morning for a dive and a beer.

"One of our guys [once said] we might have solved a bit of history, but we made a bit of history as well," said Alan Simon from Mona Vale, a member of the group known as No Frills Divers.

"And although we've always been a close group of friends, we're closer than we've ever been."

The Heritage Minister, Robyn Parker, unveiled a plaque yesterday at a headland overlooking the resting place of the M24 mini-submarine, which lies on the ocean floor five kilometres out and 55 metres down off Bungan Head, near Newport.

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