Major General Matthew Holmes, former head of the Royal Marines, died by suicide after experiencing “substantial stress,” an inquest has found. The 54-year-old was found dead in his Winchester home on October 2, 2021. 

The inquest revealed that Maj Gen Holmes had faced multiple challenges in the months leading up to his death, including the loss of his position in a management restructuring, the breakdown of his marriage, and feelings of anger over the UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

During the proceedings, his widow testified that her husband had been given an ultimatum by Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Jerry Kydd, which he found “hugely humiliating.”

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Who is Matthew “Matt” Holmes?

Matt Holmes was born on June 29, 1967, in Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire, England, to father Christopher Holmes and mother Linda Holmes. His full name is Matthew John Holmes. 

Holmes studied at Desborough School and later received his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Exeter. He also got a master’s in Defence Studies from King’s College London before joining the Royal Marines.

John Holmes served in the British armed forces for over 30 years. Throughout his early tours of duty, he was deployed to Norway, the Far East, Northern Ireland, and Zimbabwe. He was then sent to Kosovo and Afghanistan, where he was in command of 42 Commando Royal Marines from 2006 to 2008. 

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For his leadership in Afghanistan, he received the Distinguished Service Order. From 2019 until 2021, he served as Commandant General Royal Marines.

The Major General died by hanging at his home in Winchester on October 2, 2021, aged 54. His funeral was held on October 13, 2021, at Winchester Cathedral, where over 700 people, including the Defence Secretary, the outgoing Chief of the Defence Staff, and the incoming Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, attended. 

Flag bearers from the Royal Marines Association and the United States Marine Corps lined the approach to the cathedral, and the Royal Marines Band Service played music, ending with the Last Post and God Save the Queen. A three-volley salute was fired by Marines from the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines.