Maurice Wood

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Maurice Arthur Ponsonby Wood DSC (26 August 1916 – 24 June 2007) was an Anglican bishop in the Evangelical tradition. He was a Royal Navy commando chaplain in World War II and later the Bishop of Norwich.

Early life and education[edit]

Wood was born into a teetotal Evangelical family and was educated at Monkton Combe School, Bath, Queens' College, Cambridge and Ridley Hall, Cambridge.


Maurice Wood was married twice. He had three children, Andrew, Patrick and Charity with his first wife, Marjorie and three children, John, Jane and Daniel, with his second wife, Margaret.


During World War II, Wood landed with his Royal Marine unit on the Normandy beaches on D-Day. He officiated at the first service on liberated French soil, aided by the portable organ he had insisted on bringing ashore. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. He was a very popular and distinguished chaplain of No. 48 (Royal Marines) Commando. He joined them after D-Day and landed with them by swimming ashore in their invasion of Walcheren island on 1 November. As in France after D-day, Wood organised a thanksgiving service at Walcheren. It may have been held in Zoutelande Church where Wood and a Dutch pastor chose hymns which could be sung in both Dutch and English.

After the war Wood worked in the parishes of St Ebbe's Oxford (1947–1952) and St Mary's, Islington (1952–1961) both known for their strong Evangelical traditions. Following that he became Principal of Oak Hill Theological College in Southgate, London. In 1971 was appointed the 69th Bishop of Norwich, serving in this post for 14 years before retiring in 1985. He espoused conventional Evangelical views - for example on women's ordination and supported Mary Whitehouse in her campaigns. He was also innovative - for example he bought a fleet of 36 mopeds to enable his clergy to get around their parishes - and a media friendly communicator. Wood was a supporter of evangelism and helped to organise Billy Graham's UK crusades. He was also a regular speaker at the annual Keswick Convention and served on the council for many years.

Honours and awards[edit]

  • 14 November 1944 - Distinguished Service Cross - For gallantry, skill, determination and undaunted devotion to duty during the landing of Allied Forces on the coast of Normandy The Reverend Maurice Arthur Ponsonby Wood, Temporary Chaplain, R.N.V.R. (Bromley).[1]


  1. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36794. p. 5215. 14 November 1944. Retrieved 5 December 2008.


Church of England titles
Preceded by
William Lancelot Scott Fleming
Bishop of Norwich
Succeeded by
Peter John Nott