July 2008 Update.
The first logging of this station by myself was on 21 December 1988, so it would be its 20th anniversary this year. However, it seems that the station won't be around to celebrate its birthday as the last logging I have is on 29 June 2008. Whether it will return or not only time will tell.
September 2008 Update.
Its sister station E3a (Cherry Ripe) has been found to be active and was last monitored by myself at 1100 UTC on 18864kHz on 30 OCT 09.
October 2009 Update.
It seems that Cherry Ripe has moved from its former home in Guam to a site at Humpty Doo in Arnhem Land, Northern Australia. Eddy W. in South Australia says:
"Cherry Ripe looks to have re-activated its Cherry Ripe broadcasts, I found this on 20610 kHz today at 0743 UTC. I have heard speculation, that the transmitter has been moved from Guam, and is now at Humpty Doo, in the Northern Territory of Australia. This would fit well with my own direction finding experiments, which show the signal is stronger at 340 degrees than it used to be, when it was at Guam, which is at 8 degrees from me."
Download a full transcript of an E3 message from Oct 04 (Thanks to Justin B.) PDF
BBC Radio 4 programme "Tracking the Lincolnshire Poacher"
Lincolnshire Poacher transmitter site
Lincolnshire Poacher interference with unid station. (DX in Russia) Dec 07
Voice of Korea on 11545 kHz clashing with E3 Lincs. Poacher.
E3 Lincolnshire Poacher
E3a Cherry Ripe
6959 kHz OCT 04 Full transmission from Jason C. in Canada.
E3 21 JUN 05 10426kHz recorded by Poacher in Russia.
E3 11545 kHz 1545 UTC 8 FEB 06 STUTTER recorded by Poacher in Russia.
E3 Lincs Poacher mixing with G16 "Sierra Bravo" on 11545 kHz
E3 Lincs Poacher 11 AUG 06 on 11545 kHz recorded by Fabian in Germany
E3 Jamming transmitter in trouble!
The Lincolnshire Poacher caught on video VIDEO wmv 2.2 MB
See E3 hiding under the Voice of Russia
Lincolnshire Poacher transmitter site:
Cyprus TV Show
E3 LINCOLNSHIRE POACHER ALL TIMES UTC MON TUE WED THU 1200 14487/15682/16084 1200 14487/15682/16084 1200 14487/15682/16084 1200 14487/15682/16084 1300 14487/15682/16084 1300 14487/15682/16084 1300 14487/15682/16084 1300 14487/15682/16084 1400 10426/12603/14487 1400 16314/14487/12603 1400 14487/15682/16084 1400 14487/15682/16084 1500 11545/13375/15682 1500 7755/8464/10426 1500 11545/14487/16084 1500 11545/12603/13375 1600 11545/12603/13375 1600 11545/13375/15682 1600 6485/7755/10425 1600 8464/12603/14487 1700 6959/8486/11545 1700 11545/12603/13375 1700 12603/14487/16475 1700 5422/6465/8464 1800 7337/9251/12603 1800 5746/6959/9251 1800 6959/9251/11545 1800 12603/14487/16475 1900 7337/9251/12603 1900 6959/9251/11545 1900 5746/6485/8464 1900 6959/9251/11545 2000 6959/9251/11545 2000 7337/9251/12603 2000 6959/9251/11545 2000 6959/9251/11545 2100 6959/9251/11545 2100 7337/9251/12603 2100 7337/9251/12603 2100 5746/6959/9251 2200 6959/10426/11545 2200 6959/9251/12603 2200 7337/9251/12603 2200 7337/9251/12603 FRI SAT SUN 1200 14487/15682/16084 1200 14487/15682/16084 1200 14487/15682/16084 1300 14487/15682/16084 1300 14487/15682/16084 1300 14487/15682/16084 1400 14487/15682/16084 1400 10426/11545/14487 1400 11545/14487/16084 1500 11545/12603/13375 1500 11545/12603/13375 1500 11545/12603/13375 1600 11545/12603/13375 1600 11545/12603/13375 1600 8464/10426/11545 1700 11545/13375/16084 1700 11545/12603/13375 1700 11545/12603/13375 1800 5422/6485/8464 1800 11545/13375/8464 1800 7337/9251/12603 1900 11545/13375/15682 1900 5422/6485/8464 1900 6959/9251/11545 2000 6959/9251/11545 2000 6900/10462/11545 2000 6959/9251/11545 2100 6959/9251/11545 2100 6959/9251/11545 2100 5746/6959/9251 2200 5746/6959/9251 2200 5746/6959/9251 2200 5422/6485/8464
EXAMPLE OF WEEKLY MESSAGE HEADERS (Thanks to Axel Kruse) UTC Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun UTC 1200 58421 58421 58421 58421 58421 58421 58421 1200 1300 37064 37064 37064 37064 37064 37064 37064 1300 1400 65776 10753 39221 72354 58421 94803 22383 1400 1500 22383 65776 10753 39221 72354 58421 44250 1500 1600 44250 22383 65776 10753 39221 72354 94803 1600 1700 94803 44250 22383 65776 10753 39221 58421 1700 1800 58421 94803 44250 22383 65776 10753 72354 1800 1900 72354 37064 94803 37064 22383 65776 37064 1900 2000 37064 58421 37064 44250 37064 22383 39221 2000 2100 39221 72354 58421 94803 44250 37064 10753 2100 2200 10753 39221 72354 58421 94803 44250 65776 2200
| Current E3a Cherry Ripe Schedule (thanks to
Mr Izumi + Eddy W. )
SUN - FRI (UTC)
Description courtesy of ENIGMA group.
EARLY DAYS. Little information exists about the very first transmissions from L.P.; however, the station was around in the 1970s. Back in those distant days of the cold war .L.P used a male voice in A.M. to send messages and the tune was played non-electronically. Some of the early transmissions originated from HMGCC Gawcott in Buckinghamshire. FORMAT The L.P. we hear today is the product of a perverse sense of humour. Making no apologies for its blatantly British origins! The familiar tune 'Lincolnshire Poacher' is well documented in both Simon Mason's book Secret Signals and Pierces' lntercepting Number Stations, but in brief its origins can be traced back as far as 1776. The song tells the story of a poacher who avoids the gamekeeper and takes a hare to a woman in a local town. The opening line of the song used by the station is 'When I was bound a 'prentice in famous Lincolnshire'. The format is curious in giving away much of its origins but little of its secrets.
Starting on the hour the signal sent in USB opens with the LP tune played twelve times followed by the 5 figure header read ten times with a pause between readings five and six. This whole process is broadcast five times giving you a total of sixty renderings of the tune and fifty opportunities to copy down that 5-figure group. The distinctly British female announcer continues this preamble for 10 minutes after which 3 pairs of chimes are sent followed by exactly 200 five figure groups. The five figure header and the use of 200 groups raises some very interesting questions.
The five figure header (like the one used by Swedish Rhapsody and various extinct stations) gives us few clues and probably represents an encrypted agent header and a flag to indicate the point at which the 'true' message' actually ends and the messages validity. The encrypted header makes it very difficult to determine how many agents/groups/cells the system controls, unlike other stations which send messages to the same header for long periods of time. The use of exactly 200 groups also draws a parallel with Swedish Rhapsody's use of this system. Form traffic creates its own set of advantages, and perhaps disadvantages, depending on your situation!
The recipient will of course be able to deduce the 'true' end of the message and simply disregard the rest of the transmission. The disadvantage from the sender's point of view is the need to send consistently long messages therefore using up time and money in the process (no problem for the F.C.O.!) From a monitoring point of view, both Enigma readers and the monitoring services of opposing countries are faced with an impossible task. Are the messages genuine or not, and if they are where do they start and end in the transmission? Perhaps the use of form traffic does have its advantages! But what if these transmissions are not in fact messages at all! The idea may sound unlikely but consider this possibility.
You have your recipient in position perhaps in a very unfriendly country (no names mentioned) how do you ensure that he receives the one-time pads? The answer may be to transmit them to him using fixed length transmissions repeated over and over again in much the same way LP broadcasts arc made. Still not convinced? The recipient takes down the transmission and then makes further adjustments to it by, say. the use of a 'key phrase' this then 'creates' a one-time pad received over the air. The question is which station sends the actual out-going messages which are then received and copied onto the 'off-air' one-time pad? Comments welcome. The start of the message being encrypted by the agent may coincide with the OTP at any random point within the 200 group block.
And what of the lady herself? A graduate of the 'school of the speaking clock' this mechanised maiden has certainly had more 'airtime' than our most famous broadcasters. Who else has a 45 minute programme 12 hours per-day 7 days per week (not-withstanding her clone on Cherry Ripe)? I .L.P.'s only real British competition in the digital stakes is the voice of RAF VOLMET possibly a family member. But seriously, this lady is very widely heard on SW. Who is she? The answer to that we may never know but she is probably alive and well and living near Hanslope.
The system, although sampled, uses a unique (in number stations, anyway) system of voice inflection giving a life-like appearance to something which is' to say the least, rather unexciting listening, unless of course you have the decryption techniques to read the message.
After all these tunes, chimes and the reading of exactly 2000 individual digits the transmission ends when a further six chimes are sent and the tune played a further six times - a pointless elaboration, or maybe a psyops artifice to taunt the enemy.
EVOLUTION-Earlier I mentioned that the L.P. we hear today is not the same as the one which was around in the 1970s. Indeed the present schedule has evolved from the late 1980s. Simon Mason reported hearing the present LP on 21 December 1988 when it was using - 6485//5422 from 1700 to 2200.
In March 1990 it dropped 6485 replacing this with 5756 in parallel with 5422. Later 5756 was dropped in favour of 8464. Eventually it settled on the following five frequencies.
15682/14487/16084 anytime between 05.00-18.00 (probably a 3rd also, but not found)
9251/8464/7887 anytime between 15.00 22.00
The schedule continued to evolve until it reached its present output. The general build up continued from Simon Mason's monitoring detailed above and appeared to commence at 14.00 until 22.00 with another set of broadcasts beginning at 03.00. Perhaps also significant was the introduction of a third transmitter operating with the initial two. Interestingly, few number stations use three transmitters to carry simulcast messages, those known to do so include OLX, 8BY, 4XZ, E 10, E14 and Swedish Rhapsody ( Papa November used 4!) The only other station to use three transmitters to carry the same message (and then only rarely) are the Counting Stations, another victim of those jammers. The use of these three transmitters brings me onto two important points about L.P-the transmitter sites used and the jamming which this station attracts.
TRANSMITTER SITES - Rather like the CIA (E5) Counting Stations, LP has the resources and flexibility to change transmitter sites as circumstances dictate. Britain has always tried to distance itself from the idea that numbers are sent from UK sites. The most obvious location would be the Foreign & Commonwealth sites centred around their HQ in the sleepy lanes of Buckinghamshire. Hanslope Park, no longer a large HF receiving site, has undergone considerable re-development in recent years; and is well worth a visit if you are in the area. Nearby, transmitter Site, Gawcott is now a shadow of its former self; all the masts have been dismantled and the buildings protected by a very high security metal fence.
The other associated sites have been virtually rebuilt. It would, however, appear that L.P. does have a more specific target area than say Europe' & the CIS. 'the Middle Eastern countries would seem to be its present target and therefore transmitters are sited to give optimum reception in this area. British overseas interests are now so small that only Gibraltar and Cyprus still have a large military presence certainly of the type required to keep away nosy number enthusiasts. Cyprus: It has long been the most likely choice with RAF Akrotiri (Defence Communications Network Transmitter site) top of the list. Other likely named sites given to ENIGMA are the BBC East Mediterranean Relay Station (BRMRS) at Zygi and a further site at Gata.
The BBC have always distanced themselves from the idea of ally involvement with number stations, but I will just remind readers that staff at BBC relay stations outside the UK (now operated by Merlin Communications, the privatised World Service Programme Delivery Services department of the BBC are not in fact employed by the BBC - they work for the British Foreign office and always have done. But should you place all your eggs in one basket'? We have had confirmation from two independent sources that at least one frequency is transmitted from the Arab Republic of Egypt Broadcasting'Corporation site at Abis.
We further understand that the U.S. Government have used the Abis site to transmit the Clandestine' station Voice of Human Rights and Freedom for Iran. British Army exercises and U.S special forces activities are taking place in Egypt. One possible explanation for the use of several sites is to create different propagational paths for the signal, after all, what is the point of using three transmitters from the same site if they are heavily jammed? 'This may go some way to explaining why one of the three frequencies is often louder than the others or perhaps not seemingly as heavily jammed.
JAMMING - Almost from the outset of the present format, LP transmissions have attracted the unwanted attentions of those jamming transmitters. Their efforts are somewhat unprofessional and perhaps with a little more care and attention, could do a decent job. Not since the Cold War have the SW bands seen so much jamming activity. Almost all the jammers we now hear in Europe emanate from the Middle East.
Article '48 the Montreux International Telecommunications Convention States: All stations, whatever their purpose, must be established and operated in such a manner as not to cause harmful interference to the radio services or communications of other Members or of recognised private operating agencies, or of other duly authorised operating agencies which carry on radio service, and which operate in accordance with the provision of the Radio regulations."
However, this is a strong case of six of one and half a dozen of the other. LP is not a recognised service and Iran are probably not paid up members anyway, Iran would seem to be the most likely perpetrator of this jamming activity. Nearby Iraq is host to various clandestine stations, including the well known Voice of the Mojahed and others in Saudi Arabia also hostile to Iran.
Jamming of L.P. usually commences at around 1000 (now 1200) . This continues until around 1500 when jamming stops. The jamming transmitters are then redeployed blocking incoming clandestine broadcast stations until around 2000 UTC (2330 local Iranian time) when these stations close. The jamming then resumes on LP frequencies until close at 2245. This break in the jamming may not continue to be the case.
A major new short wave transmitter site in central Iran at Sirjan with ten 500kW transmitters and directional arrays installed by Telefunken. No doubt like the former East European and Soviet governments " if needs must" then these transmitters could well be used for purposes other then international broadcasting. The jamming stations are not really doing the job correctly.. First of course there is a break in jamming due to other more pressing matters (like keeping control of news and information from overseas) by blocking clandestines and as we detailed in part one, the use of LP's sliding schedule does much to avoid messages being blocked at all times. The second failing is the lack of care taken in jamming the correct frequencies, indeed a copy of ENIGMA would solve that problem. Often the jammers operate on the wrong frequencies leaving at least one in the clear
DATA MODES - Listeners may be interested to note some FSK transmissions which are also sent on LP frequencies. These take place at about 48 minutes past the hour and usually consist of two bursts of about I minute duration. More detailed study of these signals is required.
·MISTAKES Few and far between seems to sum up this section. LP is very professional in its operations and we nave noted little in the way of errors over the years. The only ones that spring to mind are usually associated with starting up on the wrong frequency realising and changing to the correct one within the preamble. In rare occasions a frequency may experience a loss of audio and this is sometimes replaced by a tone which bleeps' every few seconds until normal service is resumed, interestingly when we have noted this it often only affects one frequency while the others continue as normal.