(From In the World War)
State Historic Site
BORN IN CLINTON, Missouri, in 1895, Herbert Harold Bramel and his family moved to Sheridan between 1900 and 1907. At the age of twelve, he got a job as a news carrier, a position he held for a couple of years. In 1912, when the Bramel family moved to Clearmont, young Herald boarded in town so he could continue his studies.
A graduate of Sheridan High School, Bramel was working as an insurance agent in Fergus County, Montana, when he signed up for the draft in June 1917. Inducted into the Army in November of that year, he didn't get to France until November 1918. Once there, Second Lieutenant Bramel worked at Base Hospital 110 near Mars-sur-Allier, at which this undated letter was written.
After the war, Bramel returned to the states. He married in Montana in 1923, and by 1930 was living in Minnesota and working as a grocery salesman. By 1942, he was back in the insurance world, working for the Prudential Insurance Company in Superior, Wisconsin, where he died in 1987.
Mars is a hospital center, there being ten or more big hospitals here with a capacity of 1,000 beds each, although all of them are not running full capacity. We got in about dark one night and started in setting up our hospital the next day, and the second day we got a few patients, about twenty. The buildings were here for us, but not fixed up with stoves and plumbing, and many of them without window panes. All that is a part of my work, as well as obtaining beds, mattresses, blankets, pillows, sheets, medicines, instruments and every other line of supplies, and issuing them out and keeping records of them, in the quartermaster, medical and ordinance departments. To make it the more pleasant, I have only one man to help me who knows anything about the work, and I need at least six. Besides the office force, I am supposed to have 25 outside men, and I have about twelve; but I suppose that will be remedied some time. If you think I haven't got a man-size job now, you're plumb wrong. If I stay on this job very long, my hair will be gray and I will probably be a candidate for the bug house.
He might just have been suffering from exhaustion, but Bramel went on to have some not-so-very-kind things to say about his host country, its native females, and even the women working at his hospital:
I will admit that France is a beautiful country, and I admire it, but everywhere is mud, mud, and rain and fog, except for three or four months in summer, and I can understand how the soldier boy felt when he said we would have played a good joke on the Germans if we had let them have France!
You have heard about the beauty of the French mademoiselles, but they aren't even in the race with our own American girls, judging by those I have seen. Now and then you get a flash of a brilliantly pretty girl, but Americans for mine. We have just received ten of our 100 nurses and though they are all American girls, there are only one or two who are good looking enough to look at twice. Rather poor samples, but guess they are good nurses.