The Guns Fell Silent -  Reflections on the 100th Anniversary of the end of WW1
Nov 09, 2018 12:30 PM
Colonel (Ret) Phillip Skelton, AM
The Guns Fell Silent - Reflections on the 100th Anniversary of the end of WW1

100 years ago is a long time ago.  No one in our Rotary Club was alive then. It was 24 years before Phillip was born.  So we all have a brain stretch to imagine what life was like for people living then.  What was “normal”?  What were the background factors that we would all know if the topic was set in 2018? So the key elements of our Remembrance this special centenary 11 November will be set in the wider context outlining the reasons for, conduct of, and outcomes of WW1, ending with  brief mention of a little known historically significant local Perth service and contemporary efforts to work for peace.

Time prevents delving into individual stories that would bring long ago events to life, so the last slide will be left on as it recommends a good book recently written based around such personal material as letters to/from home written at the time.  


Colonel (Ret) Phillip Skelton, AM, FIEAust, CPEng(Ret), FRMIT(Comm Engr), qtc, psc, jssc

Phillip grew up in a succession of country towns in NSW, almost became a high school maths & science teacher but changed to joining the Army.  He started as a National Serviceman, then soldier in 1 Commando Company and later, via Duntroon, became an officer. 

His military career included training both technicians and officers; a variety of operational and technical staff appointments; management of R&D and equipment acquisition; army telecommunications policy and strategy; international standardization negotiations; and command appointments.  Some highlights are command of a Troop in Vietnam in 1967, command of a Regiment in 1976-77, Australian Communications-Electronics Representative in the USA 1978-80, Commander Field Force Signals 1981, Director of Communications -Army 1982-84 and Director Organisation – Army 1985.  In 1978 he was honoured with the award of Member of the Order of Australia for outstanding leadership.

He came to Western Australia in November 1985 to become the first Director of the Office of Communications for the WA Government.  This civilian career involved improving access to telecommunications and broadcasting services to people and businesses throughout WA.  Amongst other things, he created the Westlink talk-back television network, which delivered TAFE and other courses by satellite to people in over 120 towns throughout the State and his work led to many towns gaining radio and television transmitters.  He is the author of numerous submissions on behalf of Western Australian consumers to Federal reviews and inquiries. Since 2001 he has enjoyed part time consulting, from which he retired mid-2009.

Phillip maintains his interest in national security and defence issues as Past President of the Royal United Services Institute of WA, and as a member of the RSL. 

He enjoys contributing to a variety of community groups.  He is Past President of the Rotary Club of Perth, Past District Governor Rotary District 9455 (2012-13) and Patron of the  Signals Association of WA.  He was Deputy Warden of the State War Memorial for 7 years.

Past community service includes:  President of a Community Council; Director of a school Foundation; inaugural Director of a Music Foundation; Director of a marriage and family counselling organisation; Parish Council member in a number of Anglican parishes; member of a local government Environmental Advisory Committee; Colonel Commandant Royal Australian Corps of Signals Western Region (6 years); raised funds to support a chaplain at a district high school; committee member of The Order of Australia Association WA Branch (9 years); Chair of the Technical Committee and Board member of Access 31 Community Television, and Patron of three Police Recruit Squads.

He once played Rugby League and Rugby Union seriously, tried Australian Rules and Hockey for a season each, competed in the Modern Pentathlon for several years, enjoyed sailing, and for many years enjoyed playing tennis and paddling a kayak.  Now he just rides a bicycle, goes pole walking in a group twice a week, and enjoys twice weekly Taost Tai Chi sessions.  Other current interests include adaption to climate change, electric cars and forensic science.

He is a graduate of the Royal Military College Duntroon;  the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology;  the Royal Military College of Science, UK;  the Australian Staff College, Queenscliffe (graduated equal first);  and the United States Armed Forces Staff College.