The Amsterdam Years (1921-1945)
Ernst Willem Driessen was born on June 13, 1921 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to Johannes and Marijke Driessen. He was the oldest son
and middle child once his brother came along in 1925. Despite the depression Johannes managed to keep his job working as a chemist at one of the factories in Amsterdam while Marijke stayed at home and cared for the children. Both boys were sent to St. Stephen's School for Boys while Inge was sent to the Cathedral School of St. Mary's for their schooling. Inge married Andrew Peters, an English pilot, in 1938 and moved to London to start their married life together. Upon graduating in 1939, Ernst enrolled as a medical student at the Universiteit van Amsterdam. The Germans occupied the Netherlands in 1940 and Queen Wilhelmina fled to London, leaving the Dutch people to fend for themselves in the face of the Nazis. Fortunately for him, Ernst managed to escape forced labor or conscription into the SS because he was studying to be doctor. In 1944 disaster struck the family and Ernst was forced to leave school in order to care for his ailing grandmother, Dorothea Kuijpers. She died due to complications from pneumonia and after that it seemed that everything went downhill. By the beginning of 1945 another of his grandparents had died and it was discovered that Josef was involved with the Knokploeg branch of the Dutch Resistance. More of his family died from sickness and malnutrition until it was just Ernst, his parents, and Josef left. In May of 1945 Josef was caught and executed for being a resistance member, and his death prompted the family's immigration to London.
Early London (June 1945-late 1947)
Ernst and the family arrived in London in June, shortly after Ernst's twenty-fourth birthday. They moved into the farmhouse with Andrew and Inge, who by this time had started their own family, and began to try and get over the culture shock. Ernst himself was ill with pneumonia the first few months but the time in bed gave him time to try and learn English and through a friend from his university days managed to get a job at one of the many underground bars in Soho. He moved out of the farmhouse into a rented flat above the Red and Black Bar, where he worked until 1947. It was a mistake that led to Ernst and Edward MacKay meeting, but despite the general awkwardness of their first meeting there was a second, which led to an job interview at the Savile Row station. Ernst was hired on as Edward's partner, though the job was shortlived; after a disagreement at the section house Edward was fired and Ernst quit out of guilt. Desperate to try and rectify the situation, Ernst suggested the idea of forming a private investigating firm. And so MacKay and Driessen was comprised, at first to try and locate missing persons, but quickly became involved in the rebellion.