Why was the Airfield ‘landed’ with such a strange name, is the question most people ask when they first hear it.
The answer is in fact quite simple.
The area upon which the airfield was constructed was on land formerly occupied by Goosepool Farm, about half a mile east of the village of Middleton St George, and some 5 miles from the market town of Darlington, in Northeast England.
With the inevitability of a war with Germany looming on the horizon. the farm was commandeered in 1938 by the British Government to make way for the construction of an RAF airfield. It would become one of about 200 RAF bomber airfields to be constructed during World WAr II. In keeping with tradition it would adopt its title from the nearest geographic town or village. In this case, it was named RAF Station Middleton St George.
The farm itself was flanked by other areas, which also carried the Goosepool name, such as Goosepool Pastures, Goosepool Bridge and Goosepool Plantation.
If one lived in Middleton St George or indeed in any part of the area surrounding the village, including Darlington and nearby Stockton On Tees, then during the war it was more likely that you would know the airfield as ‘Goosepool’, rather than RAF Middleton St George or Teesside Airport.
The wartime German propaganda machine often broadcast on the radio, in English, all kinds of misinformation in an attempt to demoralise those in the British Isles who were unlucky enough to tune in.
On more than one occasion, the German Propaganda Ministry’s radio presenters made smug references to the fact that they knew about a new bomber airfield, which had just been constructed not far from Darlington.
They even knew the name of said airfield, ‘Goosepool’.
The German listening stations, who were tuning in to R/T (Receiver/Transmitter) and W/T (Wireless Telegraphy) chatter emanating from the radios of the bombers operating in this area, often heard operational references to aircraft requesting permission to land at Goosepool.
The presenter freely admitted that ‘they were as yet not sure of the exact location of Goosepool aerodrome’, however they purported to know that it was located not far from the RAF airfield of Middleton St George. They boasted that this airfield would eventually be visited by bombers of the illustrious Luftwaffe, once the exact location of Goosepool aerodrome was discovered.
The Germans did not realise of course that the bomber crews were in on the deception, and used ‘Goosepool’ instead of Middleton, the usual abbreviation of the airfields’ correct title, whilst talking to air traffic control. This allowed the Germans to continue wasting valuable time and resources, whilst vainly attempting to locate said non-existent Goosepool airfield. However it was good to know that the longer the Luftwaffe continued to undertake this fruitless task, the longer it would take before there attentions would be turned towards RAF Middleton St George itself. In actual fact, although well protected by its own anti-aircraft guns, Middleton never suffered an attack by enemy aircraft during the war.
For more on the fascinating story of this wartime airfield, visit the author’s new site and blog.