Royal Marines

'Once A Marine, Always A Marine': Tributes Paid To Major General Matthew Holmes

Members of the military community have been sharing their memories of Major General Matthew Holmes, who died at the weekend.

Tributes have been paid by the Prime Minister, Defence Secretary, colleagues and friends of the former Royal Marines chief, who was 54.

Maj Gen Holmes, who was Commandant General of the Royal Marines from 2019 until April this year, died on Saturday.

Lieutenant General Rob Magowan, the current head of the Royal Marines, said his former colleague and friend "tragically died at the weekend".

In a tweet, he said: "We'll honour him and all those closest to him. It matters not that he was a General, but it does that he is a Royal Marine.

"We are one family, just as we learned as we trained alongside each other at CTCRM (Commando Training Centre Royal Marines).

He added: "Once a marine, always a marine."


Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid tribute to Maj Gen Holmes in a tweet, saying: "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."

In a statement from the MOD, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace reflected on the loss of Maj Gen Holmes following the news of his death.

He said: "Across defence, we mourn the tragic death of one of our own.

"Major General Matt Holmes embodied the spirit of our Armed Forces, serving with distinction and rigour for over 30 years."

In a tweet, Major General Alastair Bruce, a friend of Maj Gen Holmes, paid tribute by reminiscing about a recent exchange between them. 

"Texted him on Thursday, adding pic of my view in Scotland. He replied: 'Beautiful. Very autumnal today here in Winchester. You reaffirmed my sixth sense. I owe you. Matt'."

Maj Gen Bruce added: "Life is complicated. I shall miss this fine & proud Marine."

Tributes from all across the British Armed Forces came in for the Major General.

Royal Navy Vice Admiral Andrew Burns shared how he was "very sad to lose my friend and colleague" and that "it was a privilege to have worked closely with him during an outstanding career as a Royal Marine".

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said: "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."

Maj Gen Holmes served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and Northern Ireland for more than three decades in the Armed Forces.

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.

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