Soldier’s name : Daniel Donfield
Descendent : Kenneth Donfield
T. E. Lawrence, pictured above in traditional Arab dress, is one of the most famous figures in military history. Popularly known as Lawrence of Arabia, he fought in the desert during World War One with the Arabs against the occupying Turks, who were German allies.
Lawrence was actually half Irish and would have grown up at the ancestral seat of Delvin, County Westmeath, if his father had not run away with the daughter of a servant – Lawrence’s mother.
Irishman Daniel Donfield was with T. E. Lawrence on the Palestine and Sinai campaign and remained friends afterwards with the veteran adventurer and author. Donfield was also at the Somme on the Western Front where he was gassed but survived.
His grandson, Kenneth Donfield, is an art lecturer at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and an accomplished portrait painter. Below is his image from a self portrait.
Your own name : Kenneth Donfield
Your relative : Grandfather Daniel John Donfield
Period of activity: World War One
Specific regiment: Royal Irish Fusiliers, (Listed as 10444, A/Corporal, 9th Batt, 25 April 1917)
Areas served in: He was at the Battle of the Somme (pictured below) and he served in the Middle East with T. E. Lawrence
Did you have much contact with him?
He died before I was born, in February 1962. He was 71 years old.
What are your most striking memories of him ?
He was lost in the trenches in the war and blinded by gas. He was sent to a military hospital in Belfast and fully recovered his sight.
Where is he buried?
In Deansgrange cemetery, South Dublin
Do you have any mementos of him?
I was told that he was friends with Lawrence as they served together for many years. Indeed, when they were making the film about Lawrence with the great Peter O’Toole – image below – they came to ask my grandfather about his memories of Lawrence.