Jim Brackley was one of five brothers, he was born at Seaforth Nr Liverpool on the 3rd of March 1915 and was christened James Anthony. He joined the Lancashire Fusiliers on the 27th May 1930 aged almost 15years and 3 months and was duly posted as a Band boy to the 2nd Battalion of the Regiment. He told me in one of his sayings it was always easy to remember when he became a man of 18 on the 3rd of the 3rd, 33. He was soon posted to India returning in 1934 via Palestine were there was trouble in that area. During this time he had the good fortune to have a good win on the Football Pools and purchased his own Silver Plated Trombone, which will figure again shortly in his story. He went to the Military School of Music at Kneller Hall and had to return after 6 months when WW2 broke out and he was called to active service at Dunkirk. All Bands having been disbanded at this period, he left his beloved trombone with two sisters who ran a cafe in Tourcoing and they buried it in its case in their garden until after the war. He eventually received his trombone back on the 3rd March 1947 which just happened to be his 32nd birthday. It now has pride of place in the Lancashire Fusiliers Museum. The bands had been allowed to reform in 1941 and Jim was issued with a service instrument for the time being. Jim once again toured all over the North West of England, raising moral and with a dry sense of humour told me he had played at Gigg Lane, Burnden Park, Maine Road ,etc, not football of course but Beating The Retreat in the Band, and then again off to India until after the war. On his return to England Jim continued to play with the 2nd Battalion Band until it was disbanded in 1949. He left his beloved Lancashire Fusiliers to further his musical career along with a few of his colleagues and joined the Band of the Royal Corps of Signals.
After 5 years with the Signals Jim was on the move again and was accepted by the Grenadier Guards Band but on learning they were just about to go abroad Jim declined as he had only just arrived home and did not want to go away again so soon. He visited Wellington Barracks and got talking to his old friend B/Sgt Ernie Wharton who was recruiting for the newly formed 2nd Battalion Band and in no time at all Jim was back in the Lancashire Fusiliers rejoining in 1953. When 2LF disbanded again in 1955 he duly went to the 1st Battalion in Iserlohn Germany then to Cyprus and eventually back to Osnabruck in Germany. He returned to Bury in 1964 as Permanent Staff Instructor eventually leaving the Regular Army in 1968,after 38 years. In civilian life he took over as a bailiff with Bolton Corporation from his good friend Ernie Wharton who had retired, but had kept his links with the Lancashire Fusiliers helping to form the Corps of Drums and Band. Jim himself retired from his civilian job in 1980. But Jim never left the Lancashire Fusiliers becoming association Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, in fact you could say that Jim was the Association travelling all over the North West and further parts of England helping to form Branches and associations. Never once did he ask for any expenses. In 1984 he formed the Band Branch being first Chairman and was still on the committee until this day.
Jim had two great passions in life, the Army and his family, his first wife Mary passed away in 1965 and he was left to bring up 3 young children on his own. In 1968 he had the good fortune to meet Peggy whom he married and spent the next 36 years with. He adopted Peggy's two children as his own. such was his commitment to his family. Jim was a Lancashire Fusilier, a soldier, a musician a Dunkirk Veteran and a staunch Roman Catholic who's faith never left him.
Jim Brackley was a great man, everybody's friend, looked up to and respected by everyone. Jim served the Lancashire Fusiliers from the 27th May 1930 until 20th November 2004. 74 years is a long time. We shall miss you Jim and we are all privileged to have known you. You will never be forgotten.

On behalf of Jim's family I thank you all for coming.

75th anniversary of Dunkirk recalls the remarkable story of Bury bandsman's travelling trombone

THE 75th anniversary of Dunkirk has brought back memories for one family of the remarkable story of a Bury bandsman's travelling trombone and how he was eventually reunited with the instrument seven years later.

As the Germans started their offensive in May 1940, Lancashire Fusilier Jimmy Brackley, who was serving with the 2nd Battalion XX, was forced to leave his beloved trombone with two elderly sisters who ran a cafe in France.

After the war, to his horror, Bandsman Brackley discovered he had lost the address of the sisters. However, thanks to some tenacious detective work, the instrument finally turned up on his 32nd birthday in 1947, and the story was subsequently featured in the Bury Times.

Today, the trombone and the accompanying velvet-lined case are in the possession of Bury's Fusilier Museum. His family decided to donate the instrument after Mr Brackley's death in 2004, at the age of 89.

Prior to Dunkirk and before joining a stretcher party, Bandsman Brackley took his silver plated trombone into a Tourcoing cafe and asked the two Lecomte sisters, the cafe owners, to look after the instrument until he returned. They buried the trombone nearby for safekeeping.

After bitter fighting, the Lancashire Fusiliers were ordered to fall back and on his way to the Dunkirk beaches, Bandsman Brackley dashed into the cafe for a final look at the trombone which he had owned for six years.

In 1946, after the end of the war, his thoughts turned to being reunited with the instrument and he sought the help of the resettlement advice office of the Ministry of Labour in Bury. To complicate matters, he had lost a diary containing the address of the sisters. The Ministry called in the French master from Bury Grammar School to act as a translator. The French Police eventually traced the sisters and transport was organised.

In January 1947, a letter from Lille Police said the instrument was on its way via Antwerp. And more than seven weeks later, the trombone finally turned up at Manchester Docks and Mr Brackley had to pay more than £2 in carriage costs.

Daughter, Mrs Josephine Saile, who still has the original Bury Times cutting featuring the story, said: "The trombone was very special to my dad. Before the war, when he was in India, he won a lottery and had enough money to buy the decent silver instrument to replace the one he had. He had joined the Royal Signals as a boy bandsman at the age of 15 and later the Lancashire Fusiliers. He went on to become band sergeant major."

Mr Brackley, a father of five, served with the army for 34 years and was staff instructor at the Drill Hall in Bury on his retirement.

Mrs Saile, who lives in Rossendale, added: "On the 50th anniversary of Dunkirk he gave an interview to Radio Lancs about the trombone and then appeared on television. It's an amazing and quirky story about the trombone which became a prisoner of war. My dad was brave and a real gentleman."

* The Dunkirk evacuation, between May 27 and June 4, 1940, saw more than 338,000 Allied soldiers rescued from the beaches by a fleet of more than 800 boats after they were virtually surrounded by advancing German troops. The flotilla included numerous pleasure craft and fishing boats.

Philip Maher Fusilier museum research and archive officer checks out Jim's Trombone