Happy New Year from M.I.5

Christopher Andrew reflects on a light-hearted side to the British security services.

The counter-espionage section of British Intelligence, M.I.5, celebrated victory in the First World War with a secret revue entitled 'Hush-Hush'. The programme asked the audience to give up 'all election eggs, dead cats, and similar missiles at the door'. 'These', it added, 'will be devoted to the starving Bolsheviks' Relief Fund (Food Committee).' Rdove the war, the head of M.I.5, Major (later Major-General Sir) Vernon Kell had been assisted in his secret counter-espionage duties by only three officers and a few clerks. During the four years of war his staff grew to total of 844. The camaraderie which developed among his wartime recruits was commemorated in a booklet of sentimental prose and verse which accompanied the programme notes for the victory revue:

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