More than 700 mourners attend funeral of former head of the Royal Marines

Major General Matthew Holmes was found dead at his home in Winchester, Hampshire, on October 2.

More than 700 mourners attend funeral of former head of the Royal Marines

More than 700 mourners, including the Defence Secretary and senior military officers, have attended the funeral of the former head of the Royal Marines.

Major General Matthew Holmes, who was a pall-bearer at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, was found dead at his home in Winchester, Hampshire, on October 2.

An inquest heard he was found hanged after he had been having “concerns” about his career and his marriage.

Maj Gen Holmes, 54, who had served in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, was Commandant General Royal Marines from 2019 until April this year.

Among those at the funeral at Winchester Cathedral were his widow, Lea, a solicitor, and his children, William, 11, and Eleanor, 15.

Major General Matthew Holmes funeral
Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace (centre) arrives for the funeral (Andrew Matthews/PA)

A line of marines paraded on the approach to the cathedral while the coffin arrived by hearse.

The coffin, draped in the Union flag with Maj Gen Holmes’ cap and a wreath of white roses on top, was carried into the cathedral by the same pallbearers who joined Maj Gen Holmes at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.

All elements of the Royal Marines attended the funeral, which was led by the Dean of Winchester Catherine Ogle, including 42 Commando, to which Maj Gen Holmes belonged, with music provided by the Royal Marines Band Service.

A crowd of mourners gathered in the grounds alongside standard bearers from the Royal Marines Association and the US Marine Corps.

Major General Matthew Holmes funeral
Veterans gather behind a detachment of Royal Marines outside Winchester Cathedral (Andrew Matthews/PA)

He wrote that Maj Gen Holmes was in a “bad place” following the loss of his “dream job”.

Referring to the colours of the shirts worn by the Navy and the Marines, Lt Gen Magowan said: “The ‘dispute’ is serving to drive a wedge between white shirts and lovat, which helps nobody.

“It is making my job harder as CGRM. I’ll manage that but it is also impacting the serving Corps, just as we mature an integrated relationship across the Navy in pursuit of the Future Commando Force.”

He added: “The focus this coming week is to celebrate Matt’s amazing career, and to support his family. Anything else is a straight distraction. So I am asking all of us to work together, for Matt, his family and the Corps.”

Major General Matthew Holmes funeral
General Sir Nick Carter (right), the outgoing Chief of the Defence Staff (Andrew Matthews/PA)

A naval source told the PA news agency: “The CGRM wrote to say that changes were made for the greater good of the naval service and we must all get behind them to ensure the naval service continues to provide a fantastic service to the country.”

A Royal Navy spokesman said the service would not comment on the letter and said it was focusing on providing support to Maj Gen Holmes’ family at the time of his funeral.

Maj Gen Holmes’ widow released a statement paying tribute to him.

She said: “My husband Matt was a kind, generous man. He was courageous and had committed his life to serving in the Royal Marines; he was selfless to such an extent that this was more important than his own career progression.”

A full inquest into his death will be held on February 10, 2022.

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