He joined the Divisional Ammunition Column of the 1st Field Artillery Brigade as a driver and embarked from Sydney for overseas service with his unit on board HMAT Argyllshire in October 1914. The Argyllshire sailed first to King Georges Sound near Albany in Western Australia. From Albany it sailed for Egypt on 1 November in convoy with 35 other troopships, the first Australian and New Zealand contingent for the front.
As part of the 1st Field Artillery Brigade, Vinton served at Gallipoli and later in France, transferring to the 22nd battery of the 1st Field Artillery Brigade and promoted to bombardier in March 1916, and then transferring to the 21st Artillery Brigade in May 1916. In November 1916 he was promoted to corporal in the field in France, but by the end of the year he was in the 3rd General Western Hospital in Cardiff, Wales, suffering from trench foot.
He returned to the battlefields of France in June 1917. Wounded in action at Étaples in August 1917, he was transported to the King George Military Hospital in London with severe gunshot wounds. In November 1917 he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field. His brother Frank, who was also serving in France, wrote home to their sister, Girlie, telling her of Vinton’s honour: ‘he is won the MM and he got wounded in 6 different places’.
Vinton’s war came to an end on 29 August 1918 when he was once again invalided out of the field, this time to the 3rd Southern General Hospital in Oxford, England, suffering from a painful knee condition. While recuperating in hospital, Vinton was visited by his youngest brother, Fred, who was on military leave in England. Fred wrote to his mother about this visit: ‘I went to see Vinton yesterday he is in hospital with a bad knee I think he will get home very shortly’. Fred also told Vinton that he had been to AIF headquarters in London and been told that their brother, Frank, had been killed in action on 23 August.
Vinton returned to Australia in early 1919. He had been away from his wife and young son for over four years. Years later his son Leslie, who was only two years old when his father enlisted, recalled how hard it was to adjust to having a father that he didn’t know in his life: ‘when he came home from the war of course my life changed because I’d been spoilt by the grandparents … I couldn’t take discipline from him for a while’.