Seeds of Goosepool

One of the things I would like to see on the site  in addition to our  own archaeological research,  is a viewing window for research and projects carried out by others of any period in our area of interest.

Lancaster bomber 2lancaster-bomber

I bumped into an interesting DVD recently called Seeds of Goosepool, this is a narrative about the history of what we now know as Durham Tees Valley Airport, which in  a former life was a front line Royal Air Force bomber station called  RAF Middleton St George.

The DVD is one of  a series on regiments and units produced by Paul Frost  and his media company.  Many thanks to Paul for allowing MTRP to use the material free of licence.

Bomber Command lost more than 55000 airmen during the war, the highest loss rate of any of our armed forces. In the flights from the airfield – known locally as Goosepool – on average five aircraft and 35 men would be lost every night. Now their lives are being honoured in a poignant and dramatic documentary which tells their heroic story.

A DVD entitled The Seeds of Goosepool is the product of a year-long labour of love by former Gazette reporter and TV presenter Paul Frost who produced and directed the film.

It was officially launched at a pub near the airport. The date and place of the launch are significant: the Royal Oak was a favourite watering hole of the airmen, and it took place on the 70th anniversary of Goosepool and the 40th of the airport.

One of the Canadian fliers, Andy Mynarski, won the Victoria Cross. The DVD features his story, as yet unpublished.

There is also the story of one heroic flier – McMullen – who stayed at the controls while his stricken plane was coming down over Darlington. He hung on until his crew had all bailed out, to avoid ploughing into the town and possibly killing hundreds of people. He lost his life crash landing in a field. He is remembered today by McMullen Road in the town.

Also on the film are Second World War photographs, rare footage, first-hand accounts of the almost suicidal raids and what’s left of the base on the south side of the airport.

The title was inspired by rare alpine plants which still flourish around the former Lancaster bomber turning circles.  Paul said: “The seeds were lifted into the night sky in the bombing firestorms, stuck to the aircraft and were flown back to base where they took root. “They’re found only at the former aerodrome – and at the targets in Germany.” The plants even attracted a visit from celebrity naturalist Dr David Bellamy.

The DVD’s Halloween launch was also significant: one of the Canadian units was named “Ghost Squadron” because of the number of losses. Paul said: “Those boys were thousands of miles from home, in the prime of their lives, in a strange country risking death or serious injury every night of the week. If they reached the age of 25 they were thought of as old men. They are part of Teesside history and we owe them a tremendous debt,”

The bombs were made at Aycliffe Munitions Factory by a work force which included Paul’s mum Doreen, 85.


  • George Fletcher

    I’m interested in the area to the east of the airport runway where the dispersal pans are located. I have explored the area, but I am conscious that I’m not supposed to be there. Does anyone at the airport organise tours? Has anyone been chucked off the area?

    • Raddiy

      Hi George,

      The area must be within the security area of the airport, so your unathorised presence there could be subject to an unlimited fine. If you have bona fide research interests, then assuming you contact the airport with an outline of your research and what you anticipate access will add to the research then I would expect they would look favourablly on your request.However in the meantime if you are caught in the secure area without permission you can probably say goodbye permanently to any help from them. You really shouldn’t be on anybodies land without their permission, if you just want to get access to have a wander around, then I would be surprised if they would be accomodating.

      John Brown

      • George Fletcher

        Hi John,

        Thanks for your response. I have managed to explore the area to the east of the runway quite a bit now. It’s a huge area. There’s a whole disused runway – and part of another there, as well as numerous dispersal pens and air raid shelters. There’s a number of other brick structures which may have been maintenance sheds or bomb dumps. Do you know if anyone is going to do a photographic survey of the site before it is developed? It’s all getting a bit overgrown now, but there’s still a lot to see. Soon it’ll be under tarmac and buildings.

  • Beccy Owen

    I don’t suppose anyone knows what specific alpine plants were found do they please? I’m curious!

    • Raddiy

      Hi Beccy,

      Sorry I have no idea what the plants are.

      I don’t now if you are local and familiar with Teesside Airport. The northern side of the main runway is the modern airport, but the area to the southern side of the runway extending in a block some 2km East/West and about 500m North/South is effectively how it was when the war ended. If the flowers were there, then I imagine they still will be there. I suppose you could contact the airport if you are local, I am sure they would be receptive if you requested access for research.


      John Brown