The Lincolnshire Poacher is perhaps one of the best known examples of a numbers station. It’s probably the most talked about, with many listeners in the UK and Europe who recall listening to it as a child. There’s many stories around the internet of people who had a short wave radio and would listen to it during the day just to hear the tune and wonder what it was.
Early reports show evidence that E03 had existed since the 1970’s and possibly earlier with a different set up. At the time, the Lincolnshire Poacher used a male voice, and non-electronic music.
The Lincolnshire Poacher Transmitter Location
The station transmitted from Her Majesty’s Government Communications Centre in Gawcott near Buckinghamshire, England in AM mode. It was a common victim of heavy jamming attempts like many other number stations from that era. E03 was also once featured on BBC Radio 1 where recording samples from the station were played on the air.
The Lincolnshire Poacher we know today transmitted from a large military site in Cyprus emitting in USB mode. Although it was originally thought to be transmitted from Egypt, but this was never the case. At the beginning of the hour, E03 would appear with its opening interval music. The first verse of an English folk tune known as “The Lincolnshire Poacher” played to sound like a calliope machine.
After the music played the female voiced machine would identify who the message was for with a 5 digit call up. The message was announced by 3 chimes and the voice would read 200 message groups. All E03 transmissions lasted for 45 minutes. Transmissions would appear every day of the week from 1200-2200 UTC.
The voice itself was unique to most number stations. Unlike most with voices that were obviously robotic, E03 had a life-like manner in which it read its messages. The last two numbers in each group would go up in pitch.
Transmissions were sent simultaneously on three different frequencies. This measure was due to the jamming attempts that often happened during E03 broadcasts. Rumored jammings of the station were said to have originated from Iran.
E03 transmissions were last logged in the summer of 2008, its sister E03a (ex-E04) ceased a year later. The last logs of E03 were on July 2nd and possibly on July 3rd of 2008. Some photos of E03’s transmission site can be viewed on the website of author Simon Mason
E03 Message Format
Each message lasted for about 45 minutes total.
|87383||6 chimes||69410 69410
03932 03932 …
|6 chimes||“The Lincolnshire
|Repeated 12 times||5-digit group
|200x 5-digit paired groups||6x|
|Repeats for 10 minutes|
Nickname: The Lincolnshire Poacher
Activity: Inactive Since 2008
Emission Mode: USB
Voice Summary: Automated woman’s voice. Very cheery sounding. Inflection in voice would go up for the last two numbers in a group. Early transmissions were made by a male and the music was played non-electronically.
Believed Country of Origin: United Kingdom (transmitted from Cyprus)
1.) ENIGMA Newsletter 14 (October 1997) Pages 3, 34-37
2.) ENIGMA Newsletter 17 (January 2000) Page 14
3.) ENIGMA Control List Page 25
4.) “Hundred Thirtieth Edition of the N&O Column / Spooks Newsletter.” NSNL 130
5.) ENIGMA Newsletter 2 (May 1993) Page 2
6.) ENIGMA Newsletter 3 (August 1993) Page 7
7.) ENIGMA Newsletter 6 (August 1994) Page 2
8.) ENIGMA Newsletter 8 (May 1995) Page 3
9.) “MI6 Stations “Lincolnshire Poacher” and “Cherry Ripe” Numbers & Oddities
10.) Simon Mason’s “E3” Shortwave Espionage Page (Archived)
11.) “Numbers Stations Make The News.” ENIGMA Newsletter 13 (August 1997) Page 35
12.) Shadows of the State by Lewis Bush, 2018
13.) The Conet Project