MISSION ON THE BALKANS
Author: Ivan Ilchev
Editor's Note: This manuscript has intriguing pre-history, as much interesting as the life and works of the Buxton brothers — Noel and Charles. The editor and translator I. Ilchev had a hard work in terms of deciphering the handwritten text and publishing it with much annotations. Practically, we have a whole new compilation with introduction, endnotes and index which remains the only written source we could find about the Buxton brothers themselves. The executives of the Buxton estate — David Buxton (son of Charles) and Sara Hogg-Buxton (daughter of Noel) — required to remain anonymous and withheld information for different reasons. In that case, the author of the book had used various other materials of secondary value, e.g., 1) The Noel Buxton Papers. In: McGill University Library, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, box № 58; 2) The Charles Des Graz Papers. In: Cambridge University Library, Diary, 10. IX. 1914; and 3) The Herbert H. Asquith Papers. In: Bodleian Library, fol. 176-177, 20. VIII. 1914, etc. Thus we present to the reader a rare book with much information concerning the diplomacy of the British Foreign Office on the Balkan peninsula.
The book "Mission to the Balkans" comprises a personal diary of the brothers Noel and Charles "Roden" Buxton, written during their trip to the Balkan states in September 1914 - January 1915; their telegrams to the Foreign office, three memoranda on the Balkan questions and an article of Noel Buxton.
The brothers are well known British politicians. The elder — Lord Noel Buxton was a Liberal and Labour MP, twice has been Minister of Agriculture in Labour governments. He had a lifelong interest in Balkan matters. He was a founder, chairman and president of the Balkan Committee (1903-1946), a lobbyist organization, acting on behalf of the Balkan peoples.
In the beginning of the First World War, Noel Buxton and his brother Charles "Roden" — also an active politician, writer and a member of the Balkan Committee, were sent by the British government on an intelligence gathering mission to the Balkans with the task to weigh down the political situation and to influence very carefully the Balkan political leaders in favor of the Entente.
The diary gives their impressions of the trip, gives insights to the divisions in the British Cabinet on aims of Balkan policy, depicts a colourful picture of the situation in the Balkan capitals and the methods of British diplomacy.
The diary has been found in 1984 and up to now has never been published.
Pictures 1, 2 & 3: We give here some picture material from the book. Albeit, biographical data on early life of the two brothers is scanty and up until their appearance as members of the "Balkan Committee" (1903). Their grandfather Tomas Fowler Buxton used to have a brewery in Westminster. The father, Tomas Fowler Buxton, Jr., was appointed governor in Adelaide, South Australia. It was here that the brothers Noel and Charles were born and spent their childhood. They come back in England in 1899 after some thirty years spent in the Far East and in the colonies of the British Empire. We couldn't establish well nourished facts about the Buxton brothers after the dissolution of the Committee in 1946.
(i). Lord Noel Buxton, a Liberal and Labour MP.
(ii). Charles "Roden" Buxton, a member of the Balkan Committee (1903-1946).
(iii). Memorandum on the inauguration of the "Buxton Brothers Street", from 7th June 1923 and issued by the Sofia City Council.
Copyright © 2008 by the author.