BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

BBC Homepage
BBC History
WW2 People's War Homepage Archive List Timeline About This Site

Contact Us

Contributed by 
CSV Action Desk/BBC Radio Lincolnshire
People in story: 
Mr William Fry
Location of story: 
Lincoln
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
A4292417
Contributed on: 
28 June 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site by a volunteer from CSV Actiondesk on behalf of Mr William Fry and has been added to the site with his permission. Mr Fry fully understands the site's terms and conditions

When the Americans came they were stationed at Scampton near Lincoln. They came regularly into Lincoln to the dance hall near the theatre and they started "jitterbug dancing". We would ask them where their friend was. They would reply "gone for a Burton", meaning gone for a new suit ie a coffin, they had been killed. That was where the saying came from.

© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.

Forum Archive

This forum is now closed

These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Re: Sayings

Posted on: 28 June 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

The saying "Gone for a Burton" is not American; it is RAF slang dating back to 1939. It refers to a suit made by Messrs Montague Burton, probably connected with getting a 'wooden suit', i.e., a coffin.

However in 1978 Eric Partridge, the eminent philologist and expert on slang, had a letter from Peter Sanders who wrote "My wife, who was in the WAAF during WW2, tells me that the RAF took over some billiards halls above the Montague Burton shops as medical centres and consequently the excuse 'he (or she) has gone for a Burton' originally meant no more than absence for a medical inspection, inoculation, etc".

Source:
"A Dictionary of Catch Phrases from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day", by Eric Partidge (edited by Paul Beale), Routledge, 1983.

Regards,

Peter

Archive List

This story has been placed in the following categories.

Air Raids and Other Bombing Category
icon for Story with photoStory with photo

Most of the content on this site is created by our users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here. For any other comments, please Contact Us.



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy