With high casualty rates in the Great War – especially for junior officers – efforts were made to protect men’s bodies. Steel helmets were introduced for British soldiers from 1916. Officers could also buy body armour for the trenches!
Wilkinson’s were a major producer of swords for the British Army. Pre-war officers all had to own swords and many bought them from the company. In 1889 they became Wilkinson Sword and soon they also began making razors.
During the Great War, their tailoring department in Pall Mall produced a bullet-proof jacket to save the lives of ‘our gallant officers in the fighting line’:
A member of the war relics forum posted some excellent photos of a real wartime example of this tunic in a discussion thread there. The jackets didn’t really catch on, perhaps because they were so heavy.
Others were also produced, as this discussion on the excellent Great War Forum shows.