Their bodies are buried in peace; but their names liveth for evermore.
Their Duty Done
A tribute to the men and women of the East Gippsland Region who Died as a result of their participation in World War One : 1914 - 1919
3196 Private Peter Vincent McKinnon – Orbost / Walpa Killed in Action 25 July 1916
….. flags of the town flew at half-mast for a week
Peter McKinnon was living at Walpa before the advent of war, working as a grain and seed agent for his father who operated McKinnon and Sons at Orbost. His father, James McKinnon lived at Orbost where he ran a cartage business in association with farm produce. Peter was born in 1889 and had two older brothers and a younger sister. His mother, Elizabeth, had died when he was three years old, shortly after the birth of his sister, and in 1902 his father had remarried Margaret Gardner eleven years later. James and Margaret had another son and daughter, before James died in 1918.  In 1906, when Peter was seventeen, he lived in Tasmania and was a member of the Colonial Volunteer Militia. He came back to Victoria and was living at Northcote before moving to Walpa in 1912. Peter was well known in the district and very popular. He was a good athlete, an active member of the local football and cricket clubs, and a recognised leader among the young men of his acquaintance. He was also the vice-president of the local branch of the Australian Natives Association. He had a progressive social conscious that was perhaps more attuned to today’s attitude. In May 1915 one of the trophies for the local football league had an “all white players” clause attached to it which he lobbied to have removed by the officials.   Peter enlisted from Orbost on 26 July 1915 with the 8 th  Battalion. He enlisted at a time when about thirty others had also volunteered and at their farewell he made a stirring appeal for others to join. He left Australia on the Commonwealth on 26 November 1915. He trained in Egypt before disembarking at Marseille in March 1916. He was killed in action on 25 July 1916. A witness at the enquiry into his death said that he knew Peter in Egypt and also in C company. The casualty occurred while digging in at Pozieres on the morning of 25 July when a shell half buried him and killed him instantaneously. The witness was only five yards away at the time and when he was dugout he was dead. He did not know any particulars of Peter McKinnon’s burial as they were relieved two days later. When news of his death reached Orbost the flags of the town flew at half mast for a week as a genuine expression of regret and sympathy for his relatives. Peter McKinnon is remembered on the Villers Bretonneux memorial in France and on the Orbost honour roll. We have been unable to locate a photograph of Private Peter McKinnon, if you know of one, please make contact. Our group would appreciate your assistance.