Chiefs of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) (19092008)
The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) was founded in October 1909 as the foreign section of the Secret Service Bureau. The service was established to counter German espionage in the UK and was initially headed by the naval officer Captain Mansfield Cumming and Vernon Kell
, a captain in the South Staffordshire regiment.
Cumming and Kell divided the service's responsibilities into separate organizations: the former (which became known as the SIS from about 1920, and more commonly as MI6) focused on intelligence gathering overseas; the latter (which in 1931 became the Security Service, also known as MI5) on countering foreign espionage within the United Kingdom. It was Cumming's habit of signing himself MC or C that gave rise to the practice of identifying later chiefs by this short name.