Lincolnshire Poacher (numbers station)

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"The Lincolnshire Poacher"
Interval signal

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Broadcast area RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus
Frequency Several shortwave frequencies between 5422 and 16084 kHz
First air date 1988
Format Numbers station
Language(s) English
Affiliations Royal Air Force (Speculated)
Owner MI6 (Speculated)
Sister stations Cherry Ripe

"The Lincolnshire Poacher" was the common name given to a powerful shortwave numbers station. The station gained its commonly known name as it uses bars from the English folk song "The Lincolnshire Poacher" as an interval signal. The radio station was believed to be operated by the British Secret Intelligence Service and emanated from the island of Cyprus.[1][2] Amateur direction finding had linked it with the Royal Air Force base at Akrotiri, Cyprus, where several curtain antennas had been identified as being its transmitter.[3] It consisted of an electronically synthesised English-accented female voice reading groups of five numbers: e.g. '0-2-5-8-8'. The final number in each group was spoken with a lifted voice. It is likely that the station was used to communicate to undercover agents (spies) operating in other countries, to be decoded using a one-time pad.[4]

An Asian numbers station of identical format is believed to be broadcast from Australia, and nicknamed "Cherry Ripe". It uses several bars from the English folk song of the same name as its interval signal.[4][5] As of July 2008 the Lincolnshire Poacher seems to be inactive, although Cherry Ripe continued to be on-air until December 2009.[6]

History[edit]

The precise date that the Lincolnshire Poacher began broadcasting is unknown; however, it is estimated that the broadcasts started around the early to mid-1970s.[7] While numbers stations have existed since World War I (making them some of the earliest radio transmissions) numbers stations such as Lincolnshire Poacher began appearing during the Cold War, when nations such as the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom needed to send messages discreetly to their operatives in other countries.[8] However, after the Cold War, the amount of numbers stations had greatly decreased.[8] The Lincolnshire Poacher remained operating after the end of the Cold War, and continued to be broadcast throughout the 1980s and 1990s.[4]

Akrotiri, Cyprus, the believed location of the Lincolnshire Poacher's broadcasts and radio antennas.

In July 2008, the Lincolnshire Poacher stopped broadcasting. The last recorded transmission of the station was on 29 June 2008.[7] It is believed that the station's sister station, Cherry Ripe, began to send broadcasts that used to be intended to be sent over the Lincolnshire Poacher station.[7] This is believed to be true because the "Cherry Ripe" station uses a very similar call signal, and broadcasts its messages in 200 sets of five-number IDs.[7]

Location[edit]

Although the usage of numbers stations has not been confirmed by any world government, amateur enthusiasts have traced the location of the Lincolnshire Poacher's signal transmission to RAF Akrotiri, a Royal Air Force base located on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.[2] The station is believed to have been operated by the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and maintained by the Royal Air Force members that occupy the base in Cyprus.[7]

Broadcast schedule[edit]

The Lincolnshire Poacher was broadcast several times throughout the day, and was transmitted seven days a week, at various times and on various shortwave frequencies. This schedule was accurate as of January 2006, which is the most recent update to the broadcast schedule. All times are Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), and all radio frequencies in megahertz (MHz).[4]

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
12:00 14.487
15.682
16.084
14.487
15.682
16.084
14.487
15.682
16.084
14.487
15.682
16.084
14.487
15.682
16.084
14.487
15.682
16.084
14.487
15.682
16.084
13:00 14.487
15.682
16.084
14.487
15.682
16.084
14.487
15.682
16.084
14.487
15.682
16.084
14.487
15.682
16.084
14.487
15.682
16.084
14.487
15.682
16.084
14:00 10.426
12.603
14.487
12.603
14.487
16.314
14.487
15.682
16.084
14.487
15.682
16.084
14.487
15.682
16.084
10.426
11.545
14.487
11.545
14.487
15.682
15:00 11.545
13.375
15.682
7.755
8.464
10.426
11.545
14.487
16.084
11.545
12.603
13.375
11.545
12.603
13.375
11.545
12.603
13.375
11.545
12.603
13.375
16:00 11.545
12.603
13.375
11.545
13.375
15.682
6.485
7.755
10.425
8.464
12.603
14.487
11.545
12.603
13.375
11.545
12.603
13.375
8.464
10.426
11.545
20:00 11.545
 
 
           

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ "Profile of The Lincolnshire Poacher". Spynumbers. Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  2. ^ a b "E03 The LincolnShire Poacher". Retrieved 6 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "Lincolnshire Poacher". Numbers and Oddities. Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  4. ^ a b c d Simon Mason. "The Lincolnshire Poacher". Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  5. ^ "Profile of Cherry Ripe". Spynumbers. Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  6. ^ Hundred forty-seventh edition of the N&O column / Spooks newsletter
  7. ^ a b c d e Mason, Simon (30 October 2009). "E3 Lincolnshire Poacher". Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Pepiton, Juilanne (31 July 2008). "Secrets in the Static". Esquire Magazine. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 

Coordinates: 34°37′05″N 32°56′33″E / 34.61806°N 32.94250°E / 34.61806; 32.94250