The widow of the former head of the Royal Marine has paid tribute to her “kind, generous” husband after he took his own life at the age of 54.
Major General Matthew Holmes was found dead at his home on Saturday, having spent more than 30 years serving his country in the armed forces.
In a statement, Lea Holmes, who had recently split from her husband, said: “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.
“He was exceptionally proud to have served as commandant general.”
Boris Johnson also paid tribute to Maj Gen Holmes, saying he was “very saddened” to hear of the news.
“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,” he added.
Sarah Holmes, Maj Gen Holmes’ older sister told MailOnline: “Matthew and I were last in touch on Friday evening and I never thought he would take his own life.”
She added: ‘Lea was my best friend before her and Matthew got married and I’ve been speaking to her every day since this tragedy. She is devastated, as we all are.
‘She is the one who called the police on Saturday afternoon because she could not get into the house. And when the police broke the door down to get in, they found Matt’s body.’
The Major General – who had served in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan – was Commandant General Royal Marines from 2019 until April this year, Plymouth Live reports.
He commanded Plymouth-based 42 Commando 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 also awarded a CBE in 2019 – and was a pall bearer for Prince Philip, helping to carry the Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin at Windsor Castle.
First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said he was “deeply saddened to hear about the tragic death” of his friend, adding: “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.”
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.”