FORMER Royal Marine Harris Tatakis woke to the smell of his own burning flesh.

“It was the first memory I had. It was like burnt bacon,” he said.

A vehicle commander, Harris was one of three marines travelling in his armoured Land Rover when it hit an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan’s Sangin Valley.

The blast tore his leg from his body, wrecked his hearing – and saw the end of Corporal Tatakis’ 13-year career with the Royal Marines.

He was one of hundreds to leave memorial crosses in the Lydiard Field of Remembrance in a moving service on Friday morning.

For Harris, now 40, it was the first time he had returned to Wiltshire after being flown back to RAF Lyneham in a hospital plane in 2011.

He said that remembrance events served an important role for wounded veterans: “When you’re injured you never feel like you’ve finished the tour. When I went to my first remembrance service I felt like I’d finished it.”

Harris, who had life changing hearing treatment paid for by the Royal British Legion, placed his cross in the section of the Field of Remembrance dedicated to casualties of recent campaigns in Afghanistan.

“I know quite a lot of faces in there,” he said. “And I know the unseen faces: for every one of those crosses, there were at least four or five people injured.”

Military top brass, veterans, visitors and local schoolchildren joined Harris in remembering fallen servicemen and women at the Field of Remembrance.

Organised by the Royal British Legion, the Field sees more than 20,000 crosses placed in Lydiard Park’s walled garden. Each cross represents a casualty of war.

Stephen Knight, 66, was one of almost 20 leather-jacketed motorcyclists from the British Legion Riders. The former Royal Green Jackets rifleman had travelled from Watford to be at the service.

“It’s a sign of respect,” he said. “That’s what the League to us is all about: showing respect to our service colleagues.”

Teacher Linda Tindall, who accompanied Shaw Ridge Primary School’s pupil council, said: “They absolutely love coming to it. It’s the solemnity of it. We do a lot of work on warfare and remembrance at the school and it’s the pupils’ chance to show their respect.”

Students from Westlea Primary School joined youngsters from Oliver Tompkins and Brookfield primary schools – performing A Wish for Peace as part of a children’s choir.

Anoushka Morse, music teacher at Westlea Primary School, said: “I think it’s important that the kids are here. I was very proud of them. It was very emotional when the kids were singing.”

Visitor Lisa Garrett, 47, of Park North, said of the Remembrance Day service: “My husband was in the army. It’s been part of my life for 20 years.”

The Lydiard Field of Remembrance is open daily until Sunday, November 19, 9am-4pm.