Boys in Tanks by L J Elmore

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Abbey Ardennes Normandy, France as it looks today.  This is the site of the massacre of 27 Canadian soldiers by the 21st Panzer--Hitler Youth Division in 1944.



What if you wrote a fictional historical novel, and then met your character in person?  That is exactly what happened to the author!


          Boys in Tanks, is the story of a Hitler Youth, Markus Voss, who fights with the famous 21st Panzer Division at Normandy, and his Canadian counterpart, Andrew Bennett who battled his way onto Gold Beach on D-Day.  This novel emerged from Elmore's personal discoveries as a result of living in Germany and following up on curious facts, events and stories from the German veterans in the area and other local resouces about WWII .  This information kept showing up in the author's life through unusual or unexpected avenues.  The target audience is history buffs from good readers in middle school to adults.

            The author has encorporated actual, well-researched events that make the story come alive for the reader.  At times, it is difficult to distinguish between real historical figures and the well-developed fictional characters in the novel.

            The story begins with Markus as a Hitler Youth, being swept up in what he thought was a movement to bring vindication and glory to his homeland.  His parents’ faith angers him, and he rejects the concept of religion, and chooses instead to put his faith in the charismatic Hitler. 

At seventeen, he meets Silke, the love of his life when he is sent to Bavaria to help harvest crops.  That love motivates him through his darkest hours, and is a theme throughout the story. 

He assumes leadership in the 21st Panzer Division, fights with them at Normandy, becomes a prisoner of war and is sent to the United States.  The story places the characters into actual historical events that make them seem real to the reader.

            Andrew Bennett is the American who is itching to right the wrongs he knows are happening in Europe.  Having been in France before the war, he has grave concerns about his friends from there.  He goes to Canada in order to fight in Europe before American involvement.  He meets his future wife on D-Day as she tends the head wound he sustains as he comes ashore at Normandy.  He witnesses the massacre at the Abbey Ardennes where twenty-seven Canadian prisoners of war are slaughtered by young German fanatics.  At the last moment, the Hitler Youth soldier, Markus Voss, saves him.

           As the war progresses, Markus, totally indoctrinated into the Nazi cause, slowly begins to realize that he and his fellow soldiers are being deceived. As he comes to the painful turning point moment of truth, Markus confronts his real feelings towards God and the role religion will play in the rest of his life.

            Even though this is not a new topic, this story is unique in combining little known events and fictional characterizations of real people’s experiences.  Characters on both sides of the conflict are dedicated to a cause to die for, and this story creates an empathetic portfolio of both sides for the reader.  This coupled with documented little known experiences and interesting events, not only gives the reader a deeper insight into the subject, but provides the excitement to keep the pages turning.

            Through a series of coincidental experiences, Elmore met two gentlemen who currently reside in a rest home in Berlin who confirmed many parts of Elmore's finished manuscript as matching almost eerily the details in Boys in Tanks.  One of these gentelmen did mean his future wife, as she nursed his head wound.  They fell in love at first sight and married a week later.  Their passionate love letters are in the process of being translated into English.  Meeting these two gentlemen validated five years of Elmore's research. 

     To learn more, go to the link--prologue. 



L. J. Elmore has spent the last 18 years in Germany, absorbing the culture and teaching middle school students the writing craft, some of whom have gone on to be writers in their own right.  Many of the first hand stories in the book were told to the author by the people who lived them

If you are an agent or publisher, please feel free to contact me.

To read the prologue, click the link on the left.

Today the view from the shore to the sea is peaceful.  Imagine what was going through the minds of German soldiers looking out over a sea of ships and the sky filled with planes.  One soldier's comment,  "Die angst, die angst!"  (The fear, the fear!)


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Historical Fiction