Have you ever wondered where this phrase comes from?
Gone for a burton
Something that is broken, ruined or destroyed is said to have gone for a burton.
It probably started in the RAF in WW2, referring to a pilot who had died in action. Superstition amongst pilots in such hazardous circumstances had them finding euphemisms for the worst reports they had to make. Burton was a popular beer of the time. There could be comfort in thinking of your missing friend having simply gone to the pub for a beer. And the words would be easier to say.