Francis Lord was born on 16 September 1916. He studied optics in Paris and had experience in an optical factory in his home land, Czechoslovakia. The Nazis had allowed Lord to travel to Rumania to fill an existing optics order, but Lord fled to Britain and then Australia. Initially, he worked at the British Optical Company in Sydney, but the company was forced to let him go when fellow workers persisted in treating him with suspicion (due to his nationality, which tagged him as an 'enemy alien').
When R. v.d.R. Woolley, Director of the Commonwealth Solar Observatory (CSO), learnt of Lord's optics experience, he sent for him to come to the CSO immediately to assist in the work of the Optical Munitions Panel. Due to Lord's classification as an 'enemy alien', he had to be chaperoned to the Australian Capital Territory (where the CSO is located), by Champion, the manager of the British Optical Company.
Lord's experience was extremely valuable. His practical knowledge on how to design and set up an optical workshop was used to reorganise the CSO. With S.J. Elwin, he established a sophisticated workshop and undertook experiments on the production of optical surfaces, making a wide range of lenses and prisms. Within a year of Lord's arrival at the the CSO, they were producing lenses, prisms and trained optical workers.