Police seized firearm from home of ex-Royal Marines chief days before his death

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

Major General Matthew Holmes
Major General Matthew Holmes

A licensed firearm was seized by police from the home of the former head of the Royal Marines just days before his death.

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

An inquest heard that the 54-year-old was found hanging after he had been having “concerns” about his career and his marriage.

Major General Matthew Holmes funeral
Pallbearers carry the coffin of Major General Matthew Holmes, former head of the Royal Marines, out of Winchester Cathedral following his funeral service (Andrew Matthews/PA)

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

Hampshire Police have confirmed that an armed police unit attended the family home on September 22 following a “concern for welfare” call.

A force spokeswoman said: “We attended at around 1.30pm on 22 September following a concern for welfare call.

“A licensed firearm was seized. No threats were made to any other person in relation to this incident, and no arrests were made. Armed police did attend, but not in an armed capacity.”

More than 700 mourners, including Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and senior military leaders, attended Maj Gen Holmes’s funeral at Winchester Cathedral on Wednesday.

Major General Matthew Holmes funeral
(L to R) Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter and First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin attended the funeral (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Following his death, his 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.”

Ahead of the funeral, the new head of the Royal Marines, Lieutenant General Rob Magowan, Commandant General Royal Marines (CGRM), wrote in a letter to senior commanders that the death of Maj Gen Holmes was being used to “drive a wedge” between the Navy and the Marines.

He wrote that Maj Gen Holmes had been 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.”

A full inquest into Maj Gen Holmes’s death will be held on February 10 2022.

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