THE former head of the Royal Marines said: “I have one last bullet to fire” — two days before killing himself, an inquest heard yesterday.
Decorated war hero Major General Matthew Holmes, 54, had lost his role as Commandant General and had learned his wife of 19 years, Lea, 55, was leaving him.
His life was said to be “spinning out of control” and he was suffering “substantial stress” before he was found hanged at his family home in October 2021.
Police had previously gone to his home and seized his shotgun after his wife found him with the weapon “crying on the bed” and saying: “My life’s not worth living without my family.”
Maj Gen Holmes had confided in Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd about his “crumbling domestic situation”.
The officer told the hearing: “He was talking about his marriage breakdown and the impact it would have on his children and their education. He said, ‘I have one last bullet to fire.’ ”
Winchester coroner’s court heard that months earlier, Maj Gen Holmes had been told to agree to a restructuring of the Marines — which would see him lose his role — or resign.
His leaving dinner at the commando training centre at Lympstone, Devon, was described as a “car crash” due to the atmosphere. Pal Christopher Brannigan said he felt the handover ceremony “was like attending his own execution”.
The day after his leaving party, Maj Gen Holmes, an officer of 33 years, was told by his wife she was moving out.
Winchester coroner’s court heard Maj Gen Holmes later tracked her down to where she was staying and demanded she come home. On another occasion he followed her to church. He was given a restraining order.
She told the court: “We had years of marital problems but had always managed to sort them out. There was a huge amount of stress in his life. He was very unhappy so that was very difficult for me and the children.”
Maj Gen Holmes’ sister, Sarah Adkins, had asked if he had any suicidal thoughts. He replied: “Why shouldn’t I?”
He was also “angry” about the British withdrawal from Afghanistan, having led 42 Commando there in 2006 and won a DSO bravery medal and a Legion of Merit from the US.
He had been a pallbearer at Prince Philip’s funeral and welcomed Prince Harry and Meghan to the Royal Albert Hall in 2020.
Recording a suicide verdict, the coroner described Maj Gen Holmes as a capable and loyal Royal Marine officer.
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