(Initially developed as part of theme "idiomatic phrases with Spanish / Latin American roots". Minkapedia (collaborative education) ~ Andean <phisqhasuyu> languages.)
Gone for a (Spanish) Burton Edit
From "The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang" by John Ayto & John Simpson (Oxford University Press, 1992): burton, noun. Also "Burton, to go for a." Brit. of a pilot; to be killed, of a person or thing: to be missing, ruined, destroyed. 1941-. E. Roberts "I can see those flowers going for a burton." (1946). (Origin unknown; perhaps connected with Burton type of beer from Burton-on-Trent.)
This answer was supplied by ESC "Salty Dog Talk: The Nautical Origins of Everyday Expressions" by Bill Beavis and Richard G. McCloskey (Sheridan House; originally published in London in 1983): "Gone for a burton - Popular amongst airmen of World War II to describe those missing or killed in action. It is one of several expressions which transferred from the navy when its air wing was merged into the RAF in 1918. There are two derivations, each of them plausible. The first refers to a 'Spanish Burton' which was an ingenious but complicated pulley arrangement made up of three blocks. Indeed so complicated was the Spanish Burton, and so rarely used that hardly anyone could remember how to do it. Thus it became the standard answer to anyone in authority enquiring the whereabouts of a missing member of a working part 'he's gone for a burton'. The other explanation comes from the term 'a-burton' an unusual method of stowing wooden casks or barrels sideways across the ship's hold. The advantage of this was that they took up less space and were individually more accessible than when stowed in the fore-and-aft line. The disadvantage, however, and the reason why it was rarely employed, was that the entire stowage could easily collapse. Hence the implication of knocking a man over."
So what is the Spanish Burton Pulley System? Edit
Source ~ Blackboard Board Mechanics Experiment Manual http://www.as.wvu.edu/coll03/phys/www/demobook/mech/bbm_manual/exp_20.htm