The World War One wasteland: Haunting rare images show apocalyptic destruction on the Western Front
It is could be the scene from a nuclear holocaust.
A once-thriving city reduced to mere rubble, a 700-year-old cathedral barely left standing, trees that proudly lined an idyllic avenue torn to shreds.
There’s barely anyone in sight.
But the devastation wrought in these rare, haunting images was caused long before the atomic bomb came into existence.
It is the apocalyptic aftermath of dogged fighting along the Western Front during World War One when Allied and German forces tried to shell each other into submission with little success other than leaving a trail of utter carnage and killing millions.
The strategically important Belgian city of Ypres, which stood in the way of Germany’s planned sweep into France from the North, bore the brunt of the onslaught.
At its height, the city was a prosperous centre of trade in the cloth industry known throughout the world. After the war, it was unrecognisable.
The Cloth Hall, which was one of the largest commercial buildings of the Middle Ages when it served as the city’s main market for the industry, was left looking like a medieval ruin.
Its stunning cathedral, St Martin’s, fared little better.
Outside of the towns and cities, the countryside also cut a sorry sight.