Former head of the Royal Marines died at his Hampshire home amid 'concerns over his marriage and career'

THE former head of the Royal Marines died as a result of hanging after having ‘concerns about his marriage and service career’, a hearing to open the inquest into his death was told.

Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 11:26 am

Major General Matthew Holmes, 54, was found in a bedroom at his home in Winchester on October 2, the inquest heard.

Hampshire coroner Jason Pegg said that Maj Gen Holmes’ body was formally identified by his widow, Lea, and a post-mortem examination gave hanging as a preliminary cause of death.

Maj Gen Holmes, who had served in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, was Commandant General Royal Marines from 2019 until April this year and held a key role at Portsmouth navy command.

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File photo dated 10/10/07 of the then Royal Marine Lt Col Matthew Holmes after receiving his Distinguished Service Order for services in Afghanistan, at Buckingham Palace. The former head of the Royal Marines Major General Matthew Holmes died as a result of hanging, a hearing in Winchester to open the inquest into his death has heard. Issue date: Tuesday October 12, 2021.

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Mr Pegg said he would be requesting details from the Royal Navy of Maj Gen Holmes’ career including his career management regarding his removal from the position of Commandant General Royal Marines and ‘his response to it’.

Mr Pegg said: ‘It’s suspected that Matthew Holmes had a number of concerns at the time of his death including matters relating to his marriage and his service career.’

He added: ‘I direct the Royal Navy provides a statement setting out very briefly Matthew Holmes’ career and his career management post-supersession from his post as Commandant General Royal Marines and the known response to that from Maj Gen Matthew Holmes.’

File photo dated 17/04/21 of Head of the Royal Marines Major General Matthew Holmes (front right) in serving as a pall bearer at the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh in Winsdor Castle, alongside the Duke of Sussex (rear), the Earl of Wessex (centre) and the Prince of Wales.

The short hearing held in Winchester heard that police had attended an incident at the family home on September 22.

Mr Pegg said: ‘There was also an incident at the home address September 22 and I direct the police officers who attended the incident provide statements.’

The coroner also said he would be requesting statements from Maj Gen Holmes’ widow, Lea and his sister, Sarah Holmes, as well as a Royal Navy doctor and the full results of the post-mortem and toxicology tests.

The inquest was adjourned for a full hearing on February 10 2022.

File photo dated 17/04/21 of Head of the Royal Marines Major General Matthew Holmes (front, white helmet) serving as a pall bearer at the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh in Winsdor Castle.

The funeral for Maj Gen Holmes is due to take place at Winchester Cathedral on Wednesday and a fundraising page in aid of The Royal Marines Charity and the RNLI in his memory has so far collected more than £3,500.

Maj Gen Holmes 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 a pallbearer at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral in April during the procession to the steps of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Maj Gen Holmes, who had two children, was also awarded a CBE in 2019 and has been described as ‘one of our most senior and highly decorated Royal Marines’.

Prime minister Boris Johnson paid tribute on Twitter, posting: ‘I am very saddened to learn of the death of Major General Matt Holmes. My thoughts are with Matt’s family and friends at this difficult time, as well as the Royal Marines and Royal Navy who I know will feel this loss keenly.’

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