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Tributes are paid as former head of the Royal Marines ‘takes his own life’ aged 54

General who led the Royal Marines is found dead at home aged 54 after ‘taking his own life’ just six months after standing down from the role

  •  Major General Matthew Holmes CBE served in all the UK’s recent conflicts
  •  He served as Commandant General Royal Marines from 2019 until April this year
  • Won the Distinguished Service Order, for leadership in Afghanistan in 2007
  • For confidential support, call Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans


Tributes were paid last night to a former head of the Royal Marines who has died suddenly.

Highly decorated Major General Matthew Holmes CBE served in all the UK’s recent conflicts and was one of Britain’s most senior military officers.

He served as Commandant General Royal Marines from 2019 until April this year.

The 54-year-old, who died on Saturday, also won one of this country’s most prestigious gallantry awards, the Distinguished Service Order, for his leadership on the frontline in Afghanistan in 2007.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed last night that the circumstances of his death were being investigated – but they are not thought to have been suspicious.

However, it is understood that he took his own life, the Telegraph reported.  

Tributes were paid last night to a former head of the Royal Marines who has died suddenly. Highly decorated Major General Matthew Holmes CBE served in all the UK’s recent conflicts and was one of Britain’s most senior military officers

A spokesman said: ‘Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family and friends at this difficult time and they have our deepest and heartfelt condolences. We request that their privacy is respected at this time.’

Major General Holmes had a distinguished career, which included operational tours in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

He commanded 42 Commando Royal Marines from 2006 to 2008 and was appointed as a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order for his leadership on operations in Afghanistan in 2007.

He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2019.

First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin KCB ADC, said: ‘I am deeply saddened to hear about the tragic death of Matt Holmes. 

‘We mourn the loss of one of our most senior and highly decorated Royal Marines; a devoted former Commandant General who had served the nation, the Royal Navy and his beloved Corps with distinction for 33 years.

He served as Commandant General Royal Marines from 2019 until April this year

He served as Commandant General Royal Marines from 2019 until April this year

‘Matt was also a dear friend to many, and a close friend of mine for over 20 years. He will be sorely missed by the Service and especially the Corps Family. 

‘But my thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy are with Matt’s family. Their loss is the greatest and most painful: we will be there for them now and always.’

Commandant General Royal Marines, Lieutenant General Rob Magowan CB CBE, said: ‘My predecessor as Commandant General Royal Marines and my friend, Matt Holmes, tragically died at the weekend. My heart goes out to him and his family.

‘We will honour him and all those closest to him. But I also think of you all.

‘It matters not that he was a General, but it does that he is a Royal Marine. I remember and celebrate him, alongside all those who he is with now. 

‘We are one family, together, just as we learned, and as we trained, alongside each other at the Commando Training Centre. Once a marine, always a marine.’

For confidential support, call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch. See www.samaritans.org for details. 



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