Maurice Wood

Maurice Wood

The Right Reverend Maurice Arthur Ponsonby Wood DSC (born 26 August 1916; died 24 June 2007) was an evangelical Anglican clergyman who was a Royal Navy Commando Chaplain in World War II and later Bishop of Norwich.

Early life and education

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



During World War II he landed with his Royal Marine Unit on the Normandy beaches on D-Day. He took the first church 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 48 commando Royal Marines. He joined them after D-Day and landed with them by swimming ashore in their invaision of walcheren island on November 1st 1944. I know of many stories about him; all good natured and all of which testify to his courage, his ferevent Christian faith and his concern for his comrades. As in France, after D-day, so in Walcheren Maurice organised a thanksgiving service. I think it was held in Zoutelande Church where maurice and a Dutch Pastor selected hymns that could be sung in both Dutch and English.

Postwar 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. Bishop Maurice was a keen evangelist, and helped to organise Dr Billy Graham's UK crusades.


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