A TAUNTON-born Cold War spy who stalled the recovery of a Soviet warplane that crashed into a lake in the British sector of Berlin has died.

Major - later Lieut Col - Angus Southwood, operations officer of Briximis, the British Commanders'-in-Chief Mission to the Soviet forces in Germany after the war, raced to Havel Lake, where the plane came down in April 1966.

On arrival, Major Southwood, a fluent Russian speaker, discovered 40 Russian troops on the scene, as well as British firefighters, military police and soldiers.

He delivered and translated a letter from his boss telling the head of the Soviet mission to leave.

Major Southwood told the Russians they could maintain a small observation party, but the British would recover the plane and the crew's bodies.

This gave the British time to examine the plane's engines, radar and avionics, which were secretly flown to Farnborough and only returned once the wreckage was handed over piece by piece.

The head of the Soviet mission stayed on site during the recovery, watched throughout by Major Southwood.

Information from the examination of the radar equipment was among "the finest technical intelligence coups" of the Cold War.

For his part in the incident, Angus Southwood was awarded the MBE in 1968.

He was born in Taunton, the elder of two brothers of Howard, an estate agent and two times Mayor of Taunton, and Frida.

Angus was educated at Wellington School and later entered Sandhurst.

He was commissioned into the Royal Tank Regiment and joined 5RTR in Germany, going to Korea in 1953 to police the armistice.

Back in England, he studied Russian at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies.

He transferred to the Intelligence Corps and joined the 1st Special Wireless Regiment at Birgelen, on the German-Dutch border, where he eavesdropped on Soviet military radio traffic.

He later enjoyed several intelligence staff appointments, including Kenya during the Mau Mau rebellion, and in the Ministry of Defence’s technical intelligence branch, before his posting to Brixmis.

He held various senior intelligence staff appointments in the BAOR and the MoD before leaving the Army to run the anti-interrogation courses for pilots, special forces and military attachés.

In 1957 he married Maureen Ford, who he had met in Taunton. She died in 1994 and they are survived by their four children, Maxine, Russell, Clive and Anne.

Angus Southwood died on June 27 aged 92.