A CHRISTMAS with no toys is a terrible thought for any child.

But that was the reality for some children in December 1944 – although they did have a Christmas party planned by the American Red Cross Club to look forward to.

La Verne Keats was an American serviceman stationed in the signal maintenance section of Burtonwood Air Base.

Keats, along with the other men of the metal and wood shop at the repair depot, decided to see what they could do .

With the help of Lieutenant Joe Alarie, the servicemen obtained some spare iron sheets and, calling on the skills of a worker in the sheet metal shop and his letter printing press, punched out Keat’s designs for 250 replica toy Jeeps – complete with US and Burtonwood markings.

Soon, the other soldiers joined in, making homemade toys given to children up and down the country, with many staying in town.

Every visitor to the Red Cross party in Warrington had a present to take home, including one child – now probably a grandfather – presented with a jeep by Keats himself.