Matthew Holmes dead aged 54 – tributes paid as former Commandant General of the Royal Marines passes away suddenly

A DECORATED marine commander who served in Afghanistan has been found dead.

Major General Matthew Holmes, 54, died suddenly on Saturday in unknown circumstances and tributes have been paid to the former Commandant General.


Holmes was commissioned into the Royal Marines in 1988.       

His career 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.

In 2019, he was appointed Commandant General of the Royal Marines, taking over from Major General Charlie Stickland.

He served as the Commandant General until the end of April this year.

The highly decorated marine was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s 2019 Birthday Honours.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “It is with deep regret that we can confirm that Major General Matthew Holmes CBE DSO died on 2 October 2021.

“The circumstances of his death are being investigated and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.

“Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family and friends at this difficult time and they have our deepest and heartfelt condolences.”

First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin 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.”

“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.”

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

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.”

Anthony King Chair of War Studies, Politics and International Studies Department at Warwick University also said: “I’m shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Major General Matt Holmes.

"I first met him when he was CO of 42 Commando on Herrick V. And did a bit of work on FCF earlier this year for him.

"I will miss him. Sad day for Royal Marines. Requiescat in Pace.”

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