Vernon Kell was born on 21st of November 1873, son of Major Waldegrave Kell. Kell was extremely good at languages, being able to speak German, Italian, Polish and French(and later Russian and Chinese). After school, he joined the British Army and he was assigned as a translator after leaving Sandhurst.
Kell fought in the Chinese Boxer Rebellion and he acted as an intelligence officer in Tientsin, China. In 1907 Kell was moved to the CID to become Director of the Home Section of the Secret Service Bureau where he controlled espionage matters within Britain. Two years later, in 1909, Captain Vernon Kell and Captain Mansfield Cumming founded the Secret Service Bureau.
Kell became the leader of the homeland area that later became known as MI5, whereas Cumming became the leader of the foreign branch (MI6). The respective leaders of each branch are still known as “K” (Kell, MI5) and “C” (Cumming, MI6). By 1914, MI5 consisted of only 14 people (Officers, a Barrister, Investigators and Clerks). When the First World War came about MI5 found and arrested 22 German spies, many of whom were executed. Kell was head of MI5 until 1940, and he died 2 years later.