Y-stations were British signals intelligence collection sites
established during the First World War and used again during the
Second World War. The sites were operated by a range of agencies
including the Army, Navy and RAF plus the
Foreign Office (
General Post Office
General Post Office and
Marconi Company receiving stations
ashore and afloat.
2 Direction-finding Y stations
3 Y station sites in Britain
4 See also
7 External links
The "Y" stations tended to be of two types, for intercepting of the
signals and for identifying where they were coming from. Sometimes
both functions were operated at the same site, with the direction
finding (D/F) hut being a few hundred metres from the main
interception building, because of the need to minimise interference.
The sites collected radio traffic which was then either analysed
locally or if encrypted, passed for processing initially to Admiralty
Room 40 in
London and during
World War II
World War II to the Government Code and
Cypher School at
Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire.
Arkley View 1943
In the Second World War a large house called "Arkley View" on the
outskirts of Barnet (now part of the
London Borough of Barnet) acted
as a data collection centre, where traffic was collated and passed to
Bletchley Park and it also acted as a Y station. Many amateur radio
(ham) operators supported the work of the Y stations, being enrolled
as "Voluntary Interceptors".
Much of the traffic intercepted by the Y stations was recorded by hand
and sent to Bletchley by motorcycle couriers and later by teleprinter,
over post office land lines. The name derived from Wireless
Interception (WI). The term was also used for similar stations
attached to the India outpost of the Intelligence Corps, the Wireless
Experimental Centre (WEC) outside Delhi.
Direction-finding Y stations
Lydd HF Direction Finding Station 1945 Captain Louis Varney G5RV 2nd
Specially constructed Y stations undertook direction finding on
wireless transmissions. This became particularly important in the
Battle of the Atlantic
Battle of the Atlantic where locating
U-boats was vital. Admiral
Dönitz told his commanders that they could not be located if they
limited their wireless transmissions to under 30 seconds but skilled
D/F operators were able to locate the origin of their signals in as
few as six seconds.
The design of land-based D/F stations preferred by the Allies in World
War II was the U-Adcock system, which consisted of a small, central
operators' hut that was surrounded by four 10-metre-high (33 ft)
vertical aerial poles, usually placed at the four compass points.
Aerial feeders ran underground and came up in the centre of the hut
and were connected to a direction finding goniometer and a wireless
receiver, that allowed the bearing of the signal source to be
measured. In the UK some operators were located in an underground
metal tank. These stations were usually in remote places, often in the
middle of farmers' fields. Traces of
World War II
World War II D/F stations can be
seen as circles in the fields surrounding the village of
Y station sites in Britain
National HRO communication receiver was extensively used by the
RSS & Y service
Beachy Head, Sussex
Beaumanor Hall, near Loughborough, Leicestershire
Beeston Hill, Beeston Regis, Norfolk
Bishop's Waltham, Hampshire
RAF Canterbury, Kent
RAF Cheadle, Cheadle, Staffordshire
RAF Chicksands, Bedfordshire
RAF Clophill, Bedfordshire
G.P.O. Transatlantic Radiophone Station Kemback, near
Foreign Office Denmark Hill, Camberwell (Metropolitan Police)
Met Office Dunstable, Bedfordshire
Hall Place, Kent
Harpenden, Hertfordshire (Army, No. 1
Special Wireless Group)
HMS Flowerdown, Winchester, Hampshire
HMS Forest Moor, Harrogate, Yorkshire
Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire
RAF Kingsdown, Hollywood Manor, West Kingsdown, Kent
RAF Monks Risborough, Monks Risborough, Buckinghamshire
Foreign Office Knockholt, Kent
Army Markyate, Hertfordshire
Newbold Revel, RAF 'Y' Service Secret Intelligence and German
Telephony Communications Base, Warwickshire.
North Walsham, Norfolk
Foreign Office Sandridge, Hertfordshire
Shenley Brook End
Shenley Brook End Milton Keynes
South Walsham, Norfolk
Stockland Bristol Nr Bridgwater, Somerset
HMS Ventnor, Rew Down, Isle of Wight
RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
High frequency direction finding
High frequency direction finding (Huff-Duff)
Y-stations in World War I
^ Pidgeon, Geoffrey (2003). "15. Box 25 - The RSS and Hanslope". The
Secret Wireless War: The Story of
MI6 Communications 1939–1945.
UPSO. pp. 103–118. ISBN 1-84375-252-2.
^ R.B. Sturtevant, AD7IL (December 2013). "The Secret Listeners of
'Box 25, Barnet'". Popular Communications. CQ Communications, Inc. 32
(4): 22–26. ISSN 0733-3315.
^ Nicholls, J., (2000) England Needs You: The Story of Beaumanor Y
World War II
World War II Cheam, published by Joan Nicholls
^ McKay, S. (2012). The Secret Listeners. Aurum Press. ISBN 978 1
78131 079 3.
^ The operators huts can still be seen in the centre of the circles.
^ "The National Archives – Piece details HW 50/82". Retrieved
^ "Brora Intercept Y Station Operations Building". Royal Commission on
the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Retrieved 13
Gilnahirk Y Station". Retrieved 2015-07-22.
^ "Hawklaw Intercept Y Listening Station". Buildings at Risk Register
for Scotland. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
HMS Forest Moor
HMS Forest Moor is Decommissioned". Navy News. 17 November 2003.
Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 12 May
^ Fry, Helen (2007). The King's Most Loyal Enemy Aliens: Germans Who
Fought for Britain in the Second World War: Sidney Goldburg. History
Press. ISBN 978-0-7509-4700-8. Retrieved 2015-07-22.
Macksey, Kenneth (2003). The Searchers — Radio Intercept in Two
World Wars. London, UK: Cassell. ISBN 0-304-36545-9.
Garats HaY - Y Services
Beaumanor Park - Leicestershire
Bletchley Park - Official Website
Chicksands in WW2 - BBC 3CR