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Captain Henry Lake Wells.png

Cabinet Photograph
Antoin V. Sevruguin - Photographer
Teheran, Persia (Tehran, Iran)
c. 1890

This unidentified captain of the Royal Engineers was in all likelihood attached to the Indo-European Telegraph Department office that was located in Tehran. The office was staffed by an officer and several non-commissioned officers of the Royal Engineers.

The Indo-European Telegraph Department was created as a result of the India Mutiny (1857), in which the British Empire almost lost "The Jewel in the Crown" before officials in London learned there was even a problem. Simultaneously, within India, telegraphic communications proved crucial for the ultimate success of British and Anglo-Indian forces. To address this technical shortcoming, the British decided to lay telegraph lines through Persia (Iran) after early attempts to lay submarine cables under the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean failed.

This officer wears the miniature version of the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.

A possible identity has been suggested by Mr. Billy Huckaba who came across an entry for Captain Henry Lake Wells of the Royal Engineers in the 1885 edition of Hart's Army List. Mr. Huckaba found the following in other editions of Hart's:

1880 - Lieutenant & Assistant Engineer, 2nd Grade, Department of Public Works, India
1889 - Captain, Telegraph Service Persia, the local rank of Major.
1894 - Major, Telegraph Service Persia, Teheran, the local rank of Lt. Colonel.

Hart's gives Wells' war services in the 1894 edition: Lt. Colonel Wells served in the Afghan war of 1878- 1880. He raised a corps of Ghilzais, with them he constructed a road over the Khojuck. Present in several minor engagements, wounded, M.I.D., and Medal.

Naturally, the only way to positively confirm that this image is, in fact, Henry Lake Wells would be to compare it to another photograph of him. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find another likeness of Wells at this point.

Based on his lengthy obituary (below) that appeared in the 1898 edition of the Royal Geographic Society's journal The Graphical Journal gives some hint as at to the note and esteem in which Wells was held by his contemporaries:

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