JUST over a century ago, the bloodshed was finally drawing to a close.

A horrific war which had devastated communities here and abroad and ended countless lives before they had truly started was finally over by November 1918.

Now Oxford author and former city councillor Liz Wade has imagined the impact the war would have had on people living in streets now familiar to her.

At the Going Down of the Sun is her second book focussing on the First World War, following 47 Men of North Oxford, 1914-18.

Her first book was a factual insight into the 47 men from her former ward of St Margaret’s who perished in the war; the new book looks at the imagined emotions of those same men and its stark horror.

In one part, Albert Phipps, a young college servant, remembers another Albert – ‘Big Albert’ – who lived across from him as war broke out in August 1914.

Big Albert had just married and wanted to steer well clear of the war: he was looking forward to a stable life caring his wife and perhaps the couple having children.

But by 1916 ‘there was no choice’ – he was conscripted; by March 1917, he had been killed.

By that time his wife had had children.

It was not a unique sight across the country.

Indeed, mothers, girlfriends, wives and daughters would stand outside their homes like those in St Margaret’s parish, hoping they would be left unaffected by the next whirlwind of grief to hit home.

Mrs Wade said: “When the postman began his walk down Hayfield Road with the dreaded yellow telegram, the women would come out on their doorsteps, standing in silence, waiting to see where he would stop, praying it wouldn’t be them.

“Then there would be a rush to the afflicted woman, holding her during her first agony of grief.”

Other stories which made it into 47 Men showed the grim reality of the existence for endless weeks and months for countless men.

They included, Mrs Wade said: “Percy Campbell, a 20-year-old subaltern from St Margaret’s Road, buying chocolate for his platoon in Ostend, but not cigarettes because he didn’t want them to become unfit.

“He was dead 19 days later and so no doubt were many of his men.”

Meanwhile, it was a common sight to see vermin racing through where they were eating.

Ernest Thomas, of Kingston Road, wrote back home with: “We have plenty of company with rats and mice... what would you say if I told you a decent fellow was having his dinner when a mouse ran over the table (i.e. floor), he struck and hit it on the end of his fork then he threw it outside, wiped his fork on his trousers and went on with grub as though nothing had taken place.”

Mrs Wade based 47 Men on work completed by Oxford historian Stephanie Jenkins but then started to imagine other possibilities while she walked along the Western Front with her husband, Derick.

She said: “I put these questions: ‘When a sniper’s bullet goes through the head of the man next to you, how do you hold yourself together?’”

The novel then began to develop in her mind.

Class was ‘divisive’ in St Margaret’s in 1914 – and that led her to think about the lives of other men.

Albert Phipps, Lionel Edens and Percy Campbell all lived and were brought up just metres from each other – but ‘were unlikely to have met at home’, except, perhaps, at the then Scala cinema, now the Phoenix.

They all perished in the war.

Mrs Wade added: “As far as I know them, I have stayed true to the pre-war facts about each man but, once the action of the book moved to France and Flanders, I had the freedom to invent their experiences - a brothel in Boulogne, a botched attempt to open gas canisters without the right spanner, a mind frozen by shell shock, an infatuation with a VAD in the military hospital at Étaples.”

All proceeds from the book will go to military charity, Combat Stress, which can offer residential treatment to former members of the armed forces suffering from a range of mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mrs Wade added: “This novel is invention. The three men I created are just that. I wrote it while I was a city councillor for St Margaret’s Ward and this corner of North Oxford was my inspiration.

“But essentially it is a tribute to the 47 men on our war memorial – and to the many others in our parish and in the wider city who either didn’t survive the Great War or were mentally and physically damaged by it.”

At the Going Down of the Sun is available now, priced at £6.