Former Royal Marines chief Major General Matthew Holmes died as a result of hanging, a hearing to open the inquest into his death was heard today.
Major General Matthew Holmes was “concerned about his marriage and his service career,” Hampshire coroner Jason Pegg told the Winchester hearing.
Police also attended an incident at his home address in the city on Sept. 22, Pegg said.
The hearing came after the Daily Mail revealed last week that Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, the newly appointed chief of the armed forces, was undermining Major General Holmes, according to the officer’s reports.
Former First Sea Lord Sir Tony became the first naval officer in two decades to hold the top job and will lead 159,000 soldiers, sailors and aircrew from next month.
Major General Matthew Holmes, who has passed away, won the Distinguished Service Order for his leadership on the front lines in Afghanistan. He is pictured with his wife Leah and daughter Eleanor after receiving the award at Buckingham Palace in 2007
Major General Matthew Holmes welcomes Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Royal Albert Hall in London in March 2020
Major General Matthew Holmes receives the Distinguished Service Order from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 2007
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to have sidelined the military to ensure Sir Tony was appointed Chief of the Defense Staff – even against the advice of his own Defense Secretary.
Defense sources told the Daily Telegraph that Defense Secretary Ben Wallace had recommended promoting General Sir Patrick Sanders, who is in charge of the country’s Special Forces and military cyber operations.
The Ministry of Defense is also said to have favored Sir Patrick for the role, but the Prime Minister argued against this and chose the former First Sea Lord Sir Tony. This is reportedly due to Sir Tony’s naval background, which is seen as essential to the government’s ambitions to build better global trade relations.
Sir Tony and Major General Holmes were previously close friends, but this year got into a bitter row over changes in the Marines. The dispute led to Major General Holmes leaving his post as Commanding General in April – halfway through a three-year tenure.
Last week, a Daily Mail investigation revealed that he felt deeply let down by the admiral, who was his boss as the Marines are part of the navy.
A directive from Sir Tony’s office included a gag order forbidding the Marine officer from discussing important issues with colleagues, including US Marine Corps (USMC) commander General David Berger.
Major General Holmes was also warned to “expect a more limited role” with the Marines. The sequence and tone of Sir Tony’s remarks upset the father of two.
He wrote to a friend: ‘I’ve had a really tough year. I feel knocked down. Not listened to, just run over by someone with no military judgment: too much is about looks.
“I don’t trust Radakin. It’s been terrible. Horrible. You should see the tone of some of the emails I’ve had from Radakin. In effect, imposing his authority and restraining me.
Held above the ministers. All about his story. He’s not getting the Corps. But I know General Berger acknowledges my concerns (another Radakin told me not to respond to my post).
“Radakin sees himself as the owner of the USMC relationship. Don’t salvage! Not at all. He wants to talk to me. How do you think I feel…’
Sir Tony’s efforts to bring the commander-general into line came to a head late last year after a series of heated discussions between the two over the future of Major-General Holmes’ post.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson dismissed the army to ensure that Royal Navy admiral Sir Tony Radakin was appointed as the new head of the armed forces, it is alleged. The two are pictured together on HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth in May
A document distributed to senior officers read: ‘I [Sir Tony] will consult with ministers and our international partners. The debate needs to be watered down and ideally stopped. This is about my authority. International engagement by CGRM [Major General Holmes] is to stop. The focus of the CGRM is to ensure that the Corps carries out its tasks, seeks opportunities for greater integration with the Royal Netherlands Navy and prepares for a more limited role as CGRM from April 2021.”
The pair also allegedly disagreed over closer integration of the Marines within the Navy – a move opposed by Major General Holmes.
Major General Holmes’ texted complaint to a friend that ‘too much is about looks’ is said to refer to hostage takings about his height – he was 5ft 2in, according to media reports.
But he was loved by Marines and enjoyed their company. He served in all recent conflicts in Britain and won a Distinguished Service Order for leading troops under fire.
Sir Tony will take over as Chief of Defense Staff from Army General Sir Nick Carter on November 30.
The admiral was described last week as an “outstanding military leader” and was given credit as head of the navy to deploy more naval personnel on the front lines and more ships at sea.
He is replaced as First Sea Lord by Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key, who led the British airlift of British citizens and Afghans from Kabul after the Taliban takeover.
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