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Gone for a Burton

Posted by Lewis on May 11, 2007

In Reply to: Gone for a burton posted by Tony Cachart on May 05, 2007

: Gone for a burton, I have read the previous explanations, however have one of my own. During WWII most aircrew went to the old 'Burtons' billiard hall in Blackpool to learn Morse Code over the course of only a week, so when asked fellow crew members would say 'gone for a burton' can anyone collaborate? I was told this by my dad who was a wireless operator in 49 Sqdn. Lancasters.

Burton-Upon-Trent was world famous for brewing beer and indeed the process of adjusting the mineral composition of 'liquor' (water used in brewing) is called 'Burtonisation' after that place, where the water was considered near-perfect for brewing.

"Burton ale" was accordingly a very widespread drink in WWII and drunk heartily in messes and NAAFIs throughout the country. pilots did not like to say that a fellow had died and used the idea of having nipped out for a drink as a suitable euphemism. 'bought it' was a little less oblique.

morse was taught in more than one place and indeed I would lay a small wager that most aircrew did NOT travel to Blackpool to learn their morse. saying that, there would be little surprise in a NW-local wit combining the two meanings of Burton. I would also hazard that as the expression is 'a burton' (i.e. a pint of burton beer) then the place 'Burtons' doesn't quite fit the expression.

My father was in the RAF and it is an expression I remember him using pretty regularly. FWIW his service did not extend to the North West.