Operation Dervish was the first of the Arctic Convoys of World War II by which the Western Allies supplied material aid to the Soviet Union in its fight with Nazi Germany. The convoy sailed from Hvalfjörður, Iceland on 21 August 1941 and arrived at Archangelsk on 31 August 1941. The Convoy Commodore was Captain JCK Dowding RNR. On board Llanstephan Castle were two journalists, Vernon Bartlett and Charlotte Haldane of the Daily Sketch, also the artist, Felix Topolski.
This convoy consisted of six merchant ships loaded with raw materials and 15 crated Hawker Hurricane fighter planes: Lancastrian Prince, New Westminster City, Esneh, Trehata, the elderly Llanstephan Castle, the fleet oiler RFA Aldersdale, and the Dutch freighter Alchiba. The convoy was escorted by the destroyers Electra, Active, and Impulsive; the minesweepers Halcyon, Salamander, and Harrier; and the anti-submarine Shakespearian class trawlers Hamlet, Macbeth, and Ophelia. Distant cover consisted of the heavy cruiser Shropshire and the destroyers Matabele, Punjabi, and Somali. At the same time the old aircraft carrier Argus, a veteran of World War I, delivered 24 Hurricanes of the Royal Air Force's 151 Fighter Wing, which landed at Vaenga (renamed Severomorsk in 1951) airfield, near Murmansk. Largely owing to the scarcity of Luftwaffe aerial reconnaissance forces in the region at the time, all of the ships arrived safely.
An ad hoc effort, the Operation Dervish convoy was followed by a regular series of convoys numbered like their Atlantic counterparts. The first homeward-bound convoy, QP-1, left Archangelsk on 28 September 1941, and the first outward-bound convoy, PQ-1, sailed from Iceland, arriving at Archangelsk on 11 October 1941.
- Richard Humble, Hitler's High Seas Fleet, p. 110. New York: Ballantine Books, 1971.
- Lieutenant-Commander Timothy J. Cain, HMS Electra. London: Frederick Miller Ltd, 1959, ISBN 0-86007-330-0. Lieutenant-Commander Cain (then a Warrant Officer Gunner, "Guns") was the senior surviving officer of Electra, which was sunk in action with the Japanese on 27 February 1942.