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Fierce Allied Raids on Crete

LONDON--Smashing Allied air blows from Crete to Tunisia, involving the destruction or crippling of 51 enemy planes, and generally improved Allied positions in both Libya and Tunisia pointed tonight to an early opening of the decisive battles for North Africa.

While U. S. Flying Fortresses alone smashed 44 enemy aircraft on the Axis airdrome at Castel Benito near Tripoli, planes of the Middle East Command hammered Tripoli itself, the nearby port of Homs, Crete, Sicily and Lampedusa island in the Sicilian straits.