The material used in this body armour was the same 1mm manganese steel found in British helmets. The body armour, weighing 3 pounds, was designed so that its three pieces covered the vital parts of the body.
“After field trials on 5000 sets of armour, official use was given in April 1942 to introduce the body armour into the British Army. Originally 500,000 sets were to be produced although eventually only 200,000 were actually produced with 79,000 being issued. The Royal Air Force took the bulk at 64,000 and the 21st Army Group the remaining 15,000….
The body armour, when tested, proved favourable and withstood a .38 bullet at five yards, a .303 bullet at 700 yards and a ‘Tommy Gun’ single shot (.45 cal) at 100 yards….
Some 12,000 sets were sent to 21 Army Group, where the major portion was allocated to the Airborne Divisions, with smaller quantities to the Canadian Army, SAS Troops and the Polish Parachute Brigade The MRC Body Armour was rarely used in action; the only confirmed occasion was by the Airborne Forces during Operation ‘Market Garden’
Photographic and anecdotal evidence tends to point to the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division as the primary user of MRC Body Armour from the time they arrived in theatre in July, 1944 until the end of the war in May, 1945.
River crossing in the Netherlands
They were used rarely and would have been worn under the jacket in Market Garden so there are few photos. Exercise in England: