Admiral Sir Tony Radakin accused of ‘undermining’ a Marine who killed himself

New Commander of the Armed Forces Admiral Sir Tony Radakin is accused of having ‘undermined’ a Marine who killed himself after bitter fallout over changes in the Navy Corps

  • Admiral Sir Tony Radakin accused of undermining Major General Matt Holmes
  • He became the first naval officer to be commander of the armed forces for two decades
  • Reports from Holmes claim he was undermined by Admiral Sir Tony Radakin
  • For confidential support, call Samaritans on 116 123 or go to www.samaritans.org


The newly appointed commander of the armed forces undermined a general for Marines who killed themselves over the weekend, according to reports from the officer.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, 55, yesterday became the first naval officer in two decades to get the best job and will lead 159,000 soldiers, sailors and flight crews from next month.

His appointment as Chief of Defense Staff came days after the death of Major General Matt Holmes, 54. The former Navy Commander-in-Chief was found dead at his family home in Winchester, Hampshire, on Saturday. There were no suspicious circumstances.

Former First Sea Lord Sir Tony and Major General Holmes were former close friends but fell bitterly over changes in the Marines this year. The controversy led to Major General Holmes leaving his post as Commander-in-Chief in April midway through a three-year appointment.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, 55, (pictured) yesterday became the first naval officer in two decades to get the best job and will lead 159,000 soldiers, sailors and flight crews from next month

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, 55, (pictured) yesterday became the first naval officer in two decades to get the best job and will lead 159,000 soldiers, sailors and flight crews from next month

Now, a Daily Mail investigation has found 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 muzzle order prohibiting the Marine from discussing important issues with colleagues, including the Chief of the US Marine Corps (USMC), General David Berger.

Major General Holmes was also warned to ‘expect a more limited role’ in the Marines. The order and tone of Sir Tony’s remarks left the father of two deeply saddened. He wrote to a friend: ‘I’ve had a very hard year. I feel down. Not listened to, just run over by someone without a military verdict: Too much is about looks.

‘I do not trust Radakin. It’s been awful. Terrible. You should see the tone in some of the emails I’ve had from Radakin. Basically, he imposes his authority and keeps me limited.

‘Kept away from ministers. All about his narrative. He does not get the corps. But I know General Berger acknowledges my concerns (another that Radakin ordered me not to engage in regarding my post).

Former First Sea Lord Sir Tony and Major General Holmes (left) were former close friends but fell bitterly over changes in the Marines this year

Former First Sea Lord Sir Tony and Major General Holmes (left) were former close friends but fell bitterly over changes in the Marines this year

‘Radakin sees himself as the owner of the USMC relationship. Berger does not! At all. He wants to talk to me. How do you think I’m feeling … ‘

Sir Tony’s efforts to put the Commanding General in order came to a head late last year after a series of heated arguments between the two over the future of Major General Holmes’ post.

A document distributed to senior officers read: ‘I [Sir Tony] will work with ministers and our international partners. The debate should be toned down and, ideally, stopped. This is about my authority. International commitment from CGRM [Major General Holmes] is to stop. The CGRM focus is to ensure that the corps delivers its tasks, seeks opportunities for increased integration with the Royal Navy and prepares for a more limited role as CGRM from April 2021. ‘

The couple is also said to have disagreed on closer integration of the Marines within the navy – a move that Major General Holmes opposed. The complaint in Major General Holmes’ text to a friend that ‘too much is about looks’ should be said to refer to jibes about his height – he was 5ft 2in, according to media reports.

But he was well-liked by Marines and enjoyed their company. He served in all of Britain’s recent conflicts and won a Distinguished Service Order for commanding troops under fire. Sir Tony will take over as Chief of Defense Staff from Army General Sir Nick Carter on 30 November. Boris Johnson was said to have ‘walked with the gut’ when he appointed the public school-educated officer from Oldham – called the ‘Red Wall military’ chief ‘.

The admiral was described yesterday as an ‘excellent military leader’, and as commander of the navy it has been credited to have deployed more naval personnel in the front line and more ships at sea.

He will be replaced as First Sea Lord by Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key, who led the British air lift by British citizens and Afghans from Kabul after the takeover of the Taliban.

Last night, a spokesman for the Navy said: ‘Our condolences, prayers and deepest sympathy are with Matt’s family. Their loss is the biggest and most painful. The entire maritime service will be there for them now and always. ‘

Major General Holme’s family declined to comment.

  • For confidential support, call Samaritans toll free on 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org

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