heusy68

Paraguay : Guerra del Chaco - War of the Chaco 1932-1935

16 posts in this topic

Hello Gentlemen,

I have read through this forum, very few has been written about the Chaco War 1932-1935 that opposed Paraguay to Bolivia. It was a very bloody war, with a lot of casualty from both side. At the end Paraguay saw the size of its territory almost multiplied by 2.

But maybe better to read this : http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=310092

I have chosen to open this topic, because I was in Asunción 3 weeks ago, and I visited the Ejercito Museum (Army museum). The museum is open every day, but close at 3.00 Pm for those who wish to go to. So this topic will be mostly about the Medals issued by Paraguay, rather than on uniforms or Equipment.

During that War, Paraguay instituted 3 Award, : the Cruz del Chaco (it exist mainly 2 variation, all in bronze, but one that was awarded to the President of Paraguay in silver), the Cruz del Defesnsor that also exist in mainly 2 variation (but I also saw one that was cast); and the Boqueron Medal 1932 to Commemorate a Battle.

Mariscal Jose Felix Estigarribia was the Commander in Chief of the Army of Paraguay during the Chaco War, later he was President of Paraguay from August 1939 to his death in September 1940.

Here  you can see him in his Presidential Portrait, in civil dress, and also a Military portrait.

You can see that, and this is a very surprising fashion, in Paraguay the Cruz del Chaco is worn at the neck (often).

Paraguay MAP Mariscal Estigarribia Civil Portrait.jpg

Paraguay MAP Mariscal Estigarribia Military Portrait.jpg

Paraguay MAP Mariscal Estigarribia Military Portrait close up.jpg

Mariscal Jose Felix Estigarribia was the Commander in Chief of the Army of Paraguay during the Chaco War, later he was President of Paraguay from August 1939 to his death in September 1940.

Here  you can see him in his Presidential Portrait, in civil dress, and also a Military portrait.

You can see that, and this is a very surprising fashion, in Paraguay the Cruz del Chaco is worn at the neck (often).

Here you can read more on him : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/José_Félix_Estigarribia

His hats are on display too.

 

Paraguay MAP Mariscal Estigarribia Hat 1.jpg

Paraguay MAP Mariscal Estigarribia Hat 2.jpg

Here is a map of the Paraguay showing the various battle.

Paraguay Chaco War map.jpg

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ID: 2   Posted (edited)

Here are some photo taken in the museum, and related to various officers of the Army of Paraguay who saw action during the Chaco War

Let's start by Colonel Alberto Meyer, hero of Mandyyupecua

You can clearly see on the photo, that the Colonel is wearing his Chaco Cross on the neck !

Paraguay MAP Colonel Alberto Meyer 1.jpg

Paraguay MAP Colonel Alberto Meyer 2.jpg

Paraguay MAP Colonel Alberto Meyer 3.jpg

Paraguay MAP Colonel Alberto Meyer 4.jpg

Paraguay MAP Colonel Alberto Meyer 5.jpg

Paraguay MAP Colonel Alberto Meyer 6.jpg

Paraguay MAP Colonel Alberto Meyer 7.jpg

In 1996, Colonel Meyer was awarded the Medal of the Military History Academy of Paraguay.

I do believe that it is the first time that this medal is shown.

Edited by heusy68

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Here are some photo related to Major Amancio Pampliega.

The document in the frame is his Award Document with the Citation for the Cruz del Chaco.

From left to right are displayed : Boqueron medal, Cruz del Chaco, Cruz del Defensor.

Major Pampliega survived the war, and in 1968 published a book about the war : " El Conductor Glorioso : Mariscal José Félix Estigarribia ".

Paraguay MAP Major Pampliega 1.jpg

Paraguay MAP Major Pampliega 2.jpg

Paraguay MAP Major Pampliega 3.jpg

Paraguay MAP Major Pampliega 4.jpg

Paraguay MAP Major Pampliega 5.jpg

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ID: 4   Posted (edited)

Now I will post the Awards of Captan Juan E.Melgarejo.

Born in 1911 and passed away in 1995, interestingly this Officer was not awarded the Cruz del Chaco, but as an Officers of the Transmission Unit, he was awarded the Medal of Honor of Communication. The medal show its reverse (it's the oval shaped medal on lower left corner of first photo).

Paraguay MAP Captan Juan Melgarejo 1.jpg

Paraguay MAP Captan Juan Melgarejo 2.jpg

Paraguay MAP Captan Juan Melgarejo 3.jpg

Paraguay MAP Captan Juan Melgarejo 4.jpg

Paraguay MAP Captan Juan Melgarejo 5.jpg

Paraguay MAP Captan Juan Melgarejo 6.jpg

Paraguay MAP Captan Juan Melgarejo 7.jpg

This is the obverse of the Paraguay Medal of Honor of the Transmisiones.

All the different Medal of Honor for the different services Inside the Armed Forces were instituted in 1955 (one year after Alfredo Stroessner took power). There is 11 such a medals, each with a different obverse, but a common reverse. Some ribbon are for many of the medals like the red ribbon with edges stripes in red/white/blue, that is used by 4 of the 11 such a medals. The quality of frabrication vary enormously from the 1950ies till nowdays. In the frame that is in the museum, the ribbon is likely to be the one of the Medal of Honor of the Cavalry.

You can also see the suspension of the Cruz del Defensor is different from previous crosses shown here.

Paraguay Medal of Honor of Transmisiones.jpg

Edited by heusy68

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Here are the Awards of Captan Ramon Diaz de Bedoya

You can se different suspension type of Cruz del Chaco and of the Cruz del Defensor (and also with different way to "make" the ribbon).

Paraguay MAP Captan Ramon Diaz de Bedoya 1.jpg

Paraguay MAP Captan Ramon Diaz de Bedoya 2.jpg

Paraguay MAP Captan Ramon Diaz de Bedoya 3.jpg

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Here are different contemporary uniform.

The first one from the Air Force, with only the ribbon bar.

the 2nd and the 3rd are from the Army (there was a citation device on the ribbon of the Cruz del Chaco on uniform N°3, but sadly is missing). All Cruz del Chaco with citation are rare, but I have been told that the original citation were of real gold, this could explain many missings.....

The 4th uniform (Brown color) shows no medals, but I choose to show it, because it's a bit "different" : Army Reserve corps

Paraguay MAP Air Force Uniform 1.jpg

Paraguay MAP Air Force Uniform 2.jpg

Paraguay MAP Officer Uniform 1.jpg

Paraguay MAP Officer Uniform 2.jpg

Paraguay MAP other Uniform 1.jpg

Paraguay MAP other Uniform 2.jpg

Paraguay MAP other Uniform 3.jpg

Paraguay MAP Army Reserve Uniform 1.jpg

Paraguay MAP Army Reserve Uniform 2.jpg

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Heusy68 : Very interesting , its true the Chaco War is generally ignored, and was a long and bloody one ; tree years and between 80 000 and 100 000 dead according to the source consulted . two countries with scarce population , limited manpower and wealth commited themselves to a fruitless war . it was a singular one , a motorized war , with lorried infantry,and a logistical dominance of th motor. Bolivia employed with relative effect tanks , flamethrowers and a up to date air force , it was a war of fortified strongholds (fortines ) to conquest and of ample manouvres , developed on the vastness of the Chaco Boreal .was a war with few generals . with field officers commanding divisions and captains regiments , at the beginning , the belicist Bolivia had a Army in cadre , theoretically with 6 divisions , yes they exists but as skeletons of a division . total strength of the Army was less than 5000 men .Paraguay did well , declared a general mobilization . well its a theme very interesting the Chaco War . about the war few books exists in english , one the conduct of the Chaco War of the captn USAF ,D H Zook , the other The memoirs of marshall Estigarribia edited first in USA  after the war, Osprey had edited a book , not very good , but with much usable information , about the air war exists a book of Antonio Sapienza and other , The militaria related to the war is mostly weapons , equipment and some decorations of the bolivian side, ,the paraguayan is limited just the decorations you have posted, initially the three crosses were only for the officers, I will try to post a few notes about the uniforms used by the bolivians 

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On the ribbon bar (from Air Force Uniform, 2nd row, first from left), and on the Melgarejo ribbon bar (first row, last one on right hand side), this ribbon correspond to the Medal of Honor of the Ministry of Defense.

The one I own is silver gilt and of very beautifull quality, but in Asunción I saw one which was one side gold, the other side silver-gilt.

Tomorrow mid day CET I will post all the variation of Cruz del Chaco, Cruz del Defensor & Boqueron Medal I have in my data base, but for now, it's time for me to go to sleep.

Paraguay MAP Air Force Uniform 2.jpg

Paraguay Medal of Honor of the Ministry of Defense obverse.jpg

Paraguay MAP Captan Juan Melgarejo 4.jpg

Paraguay Medal of Honor of the Ministry of Defense reverse.jpg

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ID: 9   Posted (edited)

Hello Gentlemen,

Here is the following of this topic.

All Chaco Cross are in bronze, but the one awarded to the President was in Silver (with 2 real and much larger gold star on ribbon). Not in the Army Museum, but in another museum near Central Bank.

Next is a Chaco Cross with a citation, a star in gold on a gold circle bordered by palms of laurel & olive leaf. That is the highest citation for a Military (said to be the one of Mariscal José Félix Estigarribia).

The next one (third one), is the one of Colonel Alberto Meyer, one gold star is a Citation at "Order of the Army Corps"

A silver star on ribbon would be a Citation at "Order of the Division"

An open lozange shaped device would be a Citation at "Order of the Regiment".

A gold star with laurel & olive leaf (but NOT on a roundel), would be a Citation at " Order General of the Army in Campaign "

It is said to exist a Citation for Aviator who got the Chaco Cross, but even in books, you have no description.

The last 2 are from my own collection.

In Buenos Aires, I got a Cruz del Chaco with a neck ribbon.

And long time ago, I got in the UK, a Cruz del Chaco with a lapel roundel (due to its suspension by 2 rings, I believe it was a cross made in the 1950ies or 1960ies).

These 2 crosses are 39 millimeters.

If there are collectors around who got Chaco Cross or other Awards from Paraguay feel free to post them.

Paraguay Cruz del Chaco en Silver del Presidente.jpg

Paraguay Cruz del Chaco Jefe del Ejercito.jpg

Paraguay MAP Colonel Alberto Meyer 3.jpg

Paraguay Cruz del Chaco on neck ribbon obverse.jpg

Paraguay Cruz del Chaco on neck ribbon obverse close up.jpg

Paraguay Cruz del Chaco on neck ribbon reverse.jpg

Paraguay Cruz del Chaco on breast ribbon obverse.jpg

Paraguay Cruz del Chaco on breast ribbon reverse.jpg

Edited by heusy68

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ID: 10   Posted (edited)

When I was in Asunción, I have been offered to purchase this frame, with a Cruz del Chaco & a Cruz del Defensor. But even if on reverse of the frame is an attribution, attribution to a Colonel of the Military Health Service Juan B.Rivarola, and attribution confirmed by the roll, price asked was 1000 US $. I didn't bought that frame. But I can show photo.

Maybe next visit price will be a bit less expensive....

Paraguay Medal Guerra del Chaco in Frame.jpg

Paraguay Cruz del Chaco in Frame.jpg

Paraguay Cruz del Defensor in frame.jpg

Paraguay reverse of the frame 1.jpg

Paraguay reverse of the frame 2.jpg

Paraguay_Cruz_del_Chaco_book.jpg

Edited by heusy68

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Now I will show different variation of the Cruz del Defensor. Mainly there is 3 type, one with an eyelet perpendicular to the cross (and that I believe was the first type), one with an eyelet parallel to the cross, and 2 rings to hung the ribbon, and there is a third type that seems to be cast.

The Cruz del Defensor of Colonel Alberto Meyer illustrate prefectly the First Type.

Another Cruz del Defensor mounted on a neck ribbon of Order of Merit of Paraguay is also from First Type

The Cruz del Defensor on a black background is also from the First Type.

I'am looking to purchase one like that....

The one of my collection (photo 4 & 5 is without ribbon).

Also from my collection (photo 6 & 7), is a Cruz del Defensor with a different suspension Second Type, with original ribbon. I got that one in Buenos Aires, and believe me, if it is very easy to get a Cruz del Defensor without ribbon, to get one with its ribbon is VERY hard. Paid 200 US $ for it, but first time I see one for sale with its roriginal ribbon.

The Cruz del Defensor from Captan Ramon Diaz de Bedoya, illustrate a different type, it looks smoother and less crisp detail. That cross is certainly a cast one.

The Cruz del Defensor are 38 millimeters in size.

          Emmanuel

Paraguay MAP Colonel Alberto Meyer 5.jpg

Paraguay Cruz del Defensor Tipo a del Jefe del Ejercito.jpg

Paraguay Cruz del Defensor Tipo a.jpg

Paraguay Cruz del Defensor Tipo a obverse.jpg

Paraguay Cruz del Defensor Tipo a reverse.jpg

Paraguay Cruz del Defensor Tipo b obverse.jpg

Paraguay Cruz del Defensor Tipo b reverse.jpg

Paraguay MAP Captan Ramon Diaz de Bedoya 3.jpg

This is a Cruz del Defensor cast.

Paraguay Cruz del Defensor Cast224.jpg

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ID: 12   Posted (edited)

Here is the onliest Battle Medal for this War, the Boqueron Battle Medal 29 September 1932.

It exist in bronze and in silver.

The silver one from my collection is without ribbon, and is 31 millimeters in diameter.

The bronze one from my collection is with its original and very very hard to get ribbon, and is 30 millimeter in diameter.

Colors of the ribbon have been tarnished by the sun, but it is the original ribbon.

Width of ribbon is 35 millimeter (red 2,75 mm/white 2,5 mm/blue 2,75 mm; yellow 19 mm; blue 2,75 mm, white 2,5 mm, red 2,75 mm)

Paraguay Boqueron Medal Silver obverse.jpg

Paraguay Boqueron Medal Silver reverse.jpg

Paraguay Boqueron Medal Bronze obverse.jpg

Paraguay Boqueron Medal Bronze reverse.jpg

Boqueron Medal with variation of the ribbon.

Paraguay MAP Major Pampliega 5.jpg

Paraguay Medal of Boqueron 1932-35.jpg

Paraguay MAP other Uniform 3.jpg

Edited by heusy68

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ID: 13   Posted (edited)

These  are links in English to Boqueron Battle : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Boquerón_(1932 

https://anydayguide.com/calendar/2528

In this thread, there is a link to a bolivian fim (at least the trailer) about the Chaco War and the Boqueron Battle : http://soundsandcolours.com/reviews/film-reviews/bolivian-film-boqueron-evokes-the-forgotten-horrors-of-the-chaco-war-29020/

Here for a better explication of the roots and the outcomes of the Chaco War, with photofrom troops, and some equipments.

http://www.allempires.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=22753&OB=DESC

Edited by heusy68

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That is a very impressive collection indeed, Heusy!   Thank you for sharing it.

 Both the weaknes and the strength od a forum like ours is that it is entirely member driven, so a topic or theme which many of us are interested in/know about will be well represented in the posts or even have its own sub-forum, while lesser known conflicts areas and people are not well represented.  You have, by posting these descriptions and photos certainly added considerably to MY knowlkedge of that conflict, which was very limited.  If you'd care to keep posting, you may find a number of us will follow and even comment and perhaps a member or two will have their own items to share.

Thanks again!

Peter

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This is an article from a Paraguay Newspaper or Magazine related to the Chaco War Medal

Also exist on this topic, the very well made book by Miguel Angel Pratt.

    Emmanuel

Paraguay Medal of Chaco War 1932-35.jpg

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Fascinating stuff, Emmanuel, thank you for sharing!

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