Thursday, 18 February 2010

A (newish) book about the Chaco War

In one of the issues of EL DORADO (the journal of THE SOUTH AND CENTRAL AMERICAN MILITARY HISTORIANS SOCIETY) that Terry Hooker recently sent me in PDF format, there was a review of Adrian J. English's THE GREEN HELL – A CONCISE HISTORY OF THE CHACO WAR BETWEEN BOLIVIA AND PARAGUAY 1932-35.

Although the book was published in 2007 by Spellmount Ltd., (ISBN 978 1 86227 445 7) this was the first I knew about it, and so I ordered one immediately. It arrived in the post today, and a quick glance through it indicates that it is even better than I had hoped.

This is hardly surprising as Adrian English is probably the doyen of English-speaking historians who specialise in the study of South American military history.

The book has chapters and sections entitled:
  • Chronology of Events
  • 1. The Actors and the Stage
  • 2. The Roots of Discord
  • 3. Preparations for Conflict
  • 4. The Dispute Escalates
  • 5. The Road to War
  • 6. The Opposing Forces
  • 7. The First Paraguayan Offensive
  • 8. The First Bolivian Counter-Offensive
  • 9. The Second Paraguayan Offensive
  • 10. The Third Paraguayan Offensive
  • 11. The Second Bolivian Counter-Offensive
  • 12. The Paraguayan Counter-Offensive
  • 13. The War in The Air
  • 14. The Fourth Paraguayan Offensive
  • 15. The Closing Phase
  • 16. Armistice and Peace Treaty
  • 17. Summary
  • 18. Epilogue
  • Appendix I: Bolivian Army Units
  • Appendix II: Major Equipment of the Bolivian Army
  • Appendix III: Material Captured by Bolivia During the War
  • Appendix IV: Aircraft of the Bolivian Air Force
  • Appendix V: Paraguayan Army Units
  • Appendix VI: Major Equipment of the Paraguayan Army
  • Appendix VII: Material Captured from the Bolivians by Paraguay During the War
  • Appendix VIII: Ships of the Paraguayan Navy
  • Appendix IX: Vessels of the Paraguayan Merchant Marine Mobilised and Incorporated into the Navy During the War
  • Appendix X: Aircraft of the Paraguayan Air Force and Naval Air Arm
The book seems to have just about every piece of information a wargamer would need to have to refight this war. All I have to do now is to resist the temptation to do so!


  1. Never heard of this conflict until reading your blog. Looks a facinating conflict to find out more about. Keep us posted.

  2. Phil B,

    It is fascinating! Both sides start with relatively small, ill-equipped armies, and have to fight a war whilst expanding their armies and buying whatever equipment they could on the open market. In some ways it almost sounds like the way a wargamer would take on the project.

    All the best,


  3. Oh Robert what have you done!

    All the signs of a "project" forming in my tiny little mind are evident

    20mm kit from WWI or early WWII would be perfect he says rummaging through his model collection

    I'll be reading your blog with interest :)

  4. Geordie,

    I am afraid that this particular war seems to have this effect on wargamers. Once they start to get to know about it, it sort of gets into their wargaming 'soul'.

    You are absolutely right; you can use all sorts of odds and ends of kit from 1900 onwards, including naval guns mounted on land carriages, light tanks, 1930s trucks, biplane fighters, transport aircraft, narrow gauge railways, submachine guns, mountain guns, 20mm Oerlikon guns, and much, much more!

    Because the Chaco is so large, most of the fighting took place either near the major river or in open terrain near waterholes. The latter would usually be guarded by a ‘fortine’ (a group of hutted barracks surrounded by a wall and/or trenches), and a lot of battles were fought to either to capture or defend one of theses ‘fortines’. The terrain was mainly flat (ideal for the wargames table!) and covered with a fairly dense mixture of scrub and trees. There were areas of denser jungle-like vegetation and areas of open scrubland as well. There was a lot of trench fighting, but because of the space trench lines were never continuous and it was possible to outflank a position if your troops could cut their way through the undergrowth to do so.

    Still interested?

    All the best,



Thank you for leaving a comment. Please note that any comments that are spam or contain phishing messages or that come from Google Accounts that are 'Unknown' will be deleted.