Born in 1906 in Poland as Michal Antoni Leszcynski, Lester’s artistic skill was first nurtured by his mother, Eleanor Walter, a painter who had graduated from the St Petersburg Academy. He had been making a name for himself as a painter as early as 1924, when still a seventeen year old student in his first year at the Polish State Nautical College in Gdynia, when a series of his paintings were used by the student body as awards for prizes. After graduating in 1928 with his diploma in Marine Studies, he also spent two semesters at the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts. His naval career led him to the United Kingdom and the Royal Navy, in which he served with pride receiving the Atlantic Star medal, and he later became a naturalized citizen of the United Kingdom. He had some early success as an artist in London,with a solo show at the Wertheim Gallery in 1938and two more at the Dartford Museum and Egan Gallery the following year.