AP PHOTOS: 4 seasons in 1 war on WWI battlefields

WWI Changing Battlefields

BOEZINGE, Belgium (AP) — A century on, the four seasons bring constant changes to the scarred landscapes and ruins of the World War I battlefields in Belgium and northern France.

Spring has its red poppies; summer its sun-kissed green foliage; fall stuns with vibrant colors; and winter brings the bleakness of rain and mud.

Soldiers of the 1914-1918 Great War had precious little time to appreciate the color. Instead they endured the mud as relentless shelling destroyed woods and villages and created desolate treeless landscapes, while many cities were reduced to heaps of rubble.

One hundred years and the force of nature have slowly changed these haunted places, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface. Some bunkers have turned into stables; shell craters became drinking ponds for cattle. Many trenches and tunnels remained largely untouched on what was known as the Western Front, a battle line stretching from Belgium to the Swiss border.

Each season offers a different view to the relic hunter. A road that seems to yield nothing in summer due to heavy foliage unveils a trove of treasures in the desolate winter. The Ziegler Bunker in Boezinge, Belgium, is likely one of the best preserved on the Ypres Salient, and the line of bunkers on Aubers Ridge in France give the viewer an idea of how important high ground was in World War I.

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