It is with deep regret that we report that Major General Matt Holmes CBE DSO died on 2 October 2021.
General Holmes joined the Royal Marines in 1988. He spent much of his career in 3 Commando Brigade and other operational roles with the Joint arena, including operations in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.
One high point in his operational service was as CO 42 Commando during HERRICK 5 (2006-2007), the exploits and achievements of which were captured in Ewen Southby-Tailyour’s book ‘3 Commando Brigade’, and for which General Holmes was awarded the DSO.
His last appointment was as the 31st Commandant General Royal Marines (2019-2021). His time as CGRM was dominated by two strategic issues: the Integrated Review in which he successfully steered the MOD to accepting the Future Commando Force concept, and thereby safeguarding the future of the Royal Marines in the medium-term; and the Corps’ response to the COVID pandemic. In both these important issues, his approach was typified by his usual no-nonsense tenacity and attention to detail.
As Commandant General Royal Marines, General Holmes was also President of RMA – The Royal Marines Charity. He eagerly and ably championed the causes of the Corps Family and supported a wide range of events during his tenure. As our tribal chief, he was a superb advocate of the broad range of work undertaken by the Charity and its members. The constraints imposed as a result of COVID meant that he was less able to meet the Corps Family face to face, so he championed the use of video conferencing to ensure that he remained well-informed on the issues facing the Corps Family, in all its guises.
General Holmes’ successor as 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 of us who he is now with. We are one family, together, just as we learned as we trained alongside each other at the Commando Training Centre. Once a marine, always a marine”.
Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his wife, Lea, and children, Eleanor and William, at this very difficult time.