4 seasons in 1 war on WWI battlefields

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WWI Changing Battlefields
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4 seasons in 1 war on WWI battlefields

In this photo taken on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, a large World War I German built bunker is situated in the center of a farm field on Aubers Ridge near Illies, France. Aubers Ridge offered German troops as of Oct. 1914 a strategic advantage by being located on the high ground near the River Lys. 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, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, a World War I bunker is situated on Aubers Ridge near Illies, France. Aubers Ridge offered German troops as of Oct. 1914 a strategic advantage by being located on the high ground near the River Lys. 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, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, a restored World War I German trench at the Bayernwald Trench site in Wijtschate, Belgium. The area was instrumental for the German Army in the assault on Messines Ridge. The trench was restored in 1998 after being abandoned for nearly 100 years and is based on an actual German trench that existed on the site. 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, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, a World War I German built bunker is situated at the end of a reconstructed trench at the Bayernwald Trench site in Wijtschate, Belgium. The area was instrumental for the German Army in the assault on Messines Ridge. 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, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, a World War I bunker is situated next to a muddy field in La Bassee, France. La Bassee was occupied by the German army from Oct. 1914 and was part of the battleground of what is known as the "Race to the Sea". 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, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, a World War I German built bunker is situated next to the roadside in La Bassee, France. The bunker was named Le Trois Maisons (the three houses). La Bassee was occupied by the German army from Oct. 1914 and was part of the battleground of what is known as the "Race to the Sea".

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

This photo taken on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014 shows the World War I Anzac Camp bunkers in Voormezele, Belgium. The bunkers were originally constructed by the British. Their location was close to the front line with trenches running both in front and in back of the bunkers. 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, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Friday, Nov 21, 2014, the British World War I Charing Cross Advance Dressing Station bunker in Ploegsteert, Belgium. The bunker was used to treat casualties running up to the Battle of Messines Ridge. Part of the bunker today is used as a house for birds. 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, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, the remains of the Chateau de la Hutte, in Ploegsteert, Belgium. The chateau, due to its high position, served as an observation post for the British artillery but soon afterwards was destroyed by German artillery. The cellars would serve as a shelter for a great part of the war and Canadian soldiers soon nicknamed it "Henessy Chateau", after the name of the owner. 

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, sugar beets are piled high in front of a German World War I bunker on farmland in Wervik, Belgium. One hundred years after the guns went silent thousands of bunkers still exist along what was the Western Front which stretched from Belgium to the Swiss border. Many are protected by local historical authorities while many others decay slowly.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, the World War I Lettenberg bunker is situated in Kemmel, Belgium. The bunker, one of four British concrete shelters built into the hill, were constructed in 1917. The shelters were later captured by the German Army in 1918. 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, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, the remains of a German World War I bunker is situated at the Australian Memorial Park in Fromelles, France. The park is situated on what would have been the German defensive line during battles in 1916 against Australian forces. 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, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, a World War I bunker is covered in overgrowth in Fromelles, France. One hundred years after the guns went silent thousands of bunkers still exist along what was the Western Front, stretching from Belgium to the Swiss border. Many are protected by local historical authorities while others are slowly decaying.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, a World War I German bunker is situated on a farm in Langemark, Belgium. The bunker, an above ground structure, was located just behind the German front line. 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, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

This photo taken on Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, shows the World War I Ziegler bunker in Boezinge, Belgium. The bunker is sometimes referred to as the "Viking Ship", due to its shape. It was constructed by the German army and later conquered by the French Army. 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, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014 file photo, an artillery shell lays in the opening of a World War I bunker near Beaucamps-Ligny, France. Fifteen British WWI soldiers were re-buried at nearby Y Farm Commonwealth cemetery in Bois-Grenier, France on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, nearly a century after they died in battle. The soldiers, who served with the 2nd Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment, were discovered in a field five years ago in Beaucamps Ligny and identified through a variety of means, including DNA.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, a British World War I bunker is situated between two newly planted trees in Wijtschate, Belgium. One hundred years after the guns went silent thousands of bunkers still exist along what was the Western Front which stretched from Belgium to the Swiss border. Many are protected by local historical authorities while many others decay slowly.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, a World War I German machine gun post bunker is situated in a field in Langemark, Belgium. 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, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, a World War I bunker is situated at the Fort of Walem in Walem, Belgium. The fort was built in 1878 as part of the fortifications around the city of Antwerp. After heavy shelling during WWI in 1914 the fort surrendered and under the rubble still lay the bodies of Belgian soldiers. 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, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, World War I British trenches are preserved at Hill 62, Sanctuary Wood in Ypres, Belgium. The farmer who owned the site was required to leave his land in 1914 when the war began. After returning to reclaim the land much was cleared away, but he maintained to keep a large section of British trench.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, the World War I British bunker at Hellfire Corner in Ypres, Belgium. The bunker lies near a section referred to in World War I as Hellfire Corner, so named for the frequent shelling by the German Army. 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, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface. 

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Saturday, May 3, 2014, a World War I German built bunker is situated next to a farm building in Lizerne, Belgium. Local archeologists have recently discovered Belgian and French trenches in the area which was bitterly fought over during the war and was also the site of one of the first poison gas attacks.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

This photo taken on Thursday, May 8, 2014 shows the remains of the World War I German Lange Max gun in Koekelare, Belgium. The gun was originally designed to be a naval gun, but was later adapted as a railroad gun which was capable of long range. 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, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Saturday, June 14, 2014, horses eat in a pasture surrounding a World War I German built bunker in St. Jan, Belgium. One hundred years after the guns went silent thousands of bunkers still exist along what was the Western Front, stretching from Belgium to the Swiss border. Many are protected by local historical authorities while many others are slowly decaying. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

In this photo taken on Feb. 18, 2014, a World War I bunker is situated next to a modern house in Menen, Belgium. Many WWI and WWII bunkers in Belgium are protected by the heritage association and cannot be removed from the land. 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, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Friday, April 11, 2014, A wooden cross with a poppy is left at the World War I bomb crater named the "Pool of Peace" in Heuvelland, Belgium. The crater was created by the largest of 19 mine explosions detonated to signal the start of the Messines phase of the Third Battle of Ypres. The explosion was set off on June 7, 1917 underneath one of the then highest German front-line positions on Messines Ridge. The sound of the 19 mine explosions was reportedly heard as faraway as London.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, a World War I German bunker is situated on a farm in Langemark, Belgium. The bunker was constructed by German troops and formed part of the first line of defense. 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, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, a German World War I commando bunker is situated next to a house in Zandvoorde, Belgium. One hundred years after the guns went silent thousands of bunkers still exist along what was the Western Front, stretching from Belgium to the Swiss border. Many are protected by local historical authorities while many others are slowly decaying. The Zandvoorde bunker has been a listed monument since 1999.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on July 28, 2010, a bomb crater from World War I named "Ultimo Crater" is surrounded by a fence and trees in St. Yves, Belgium. The crater is a result of one of several explosions under the German front line in WWI. 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, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

In this photo taken on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, two German World War I bunkers are situated on farmland in Pervijze, Belgium. One hundred years after the guns went silent thousands of bunkers still exist along what was the Western Front which stretched from Belgium to the Swiss border. Many are protected by local historical authorities while many others decay slowly.

Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo, AP Photo

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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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