Nannau was used as an officer’s neurological hospital. These hospitals were used for short-term treatment lasting months, rather than extended treatment lasting for years. Nannau was chosen due to it’s quiet location and private grounds. The nearby house at Maes-y-Bryner was used as a guest house for the relatives of the sick patients.
At the outbreak of the First World War, the British Red Cross and the Order of St John of Jerusalem combined to form the Joint War Committee. They pooled their resources under the protection of the red cross emblem. As the Red Cross had secured buildings, equipment and staff, the organisation was able to set up temporary hospitals as soon as wounded men began to arrive from abroad.
The buildings varied widely, ranging from town halls and schools to large and small private houses, both in the country and in cities. The most suitable ones were established as auxiliary hospitals.
Auxiliary hospitals were attached to central Military Hospitals, which looked after patients who remained under military control. There were over 3,000 auxiliary hospitals administered by Red Cross county directors.
In many cases, women in the local neighbourhood volunteered on a part-time basis. The hospitals often needed to supplement voluntary work with paid roles, such as cooks. Local medics also volunteered, despite the extra strain that the medical profession was already under at that time.
The patients at these hospitals were generally less seriously wounded than at other hospitals and they needed to convalesce. The servicemen preferred the auxiliary hospitals to military hospitals because they were not so strict, they were less crowded and the surroundings were more homely.
From “Cavalry and Sporting Memories” by Major-General John Vaughan, published in 1954:
“Louey (Louisa, his wife) had made Nannau into an officers’ hospital. The War Office sent a first-rate nerve specialist, Howett, from London. We used to call the patients ‘shell shocks’ but nowadays it is neurosis… The hospital of which Louey was commandant and Howett resident M.O. was very successful. No patient ever died there”.