The late Private Robbie Poate in Afghanistan. Picture: Supplied
The late Private Robbie Poate in Afghanistan. Picture: Supplied

Why fallen soldier’s mum doesn’t do Remembrance Day

Janny Poate doesn't do Remembrance Day services.

She honours the memory of her son Robbie in a special, very personal, way that doesn't just recall the fallen but helps those comrades who have come home broken.

"On Remembrance Day, I don't go to any of these special things because I want to be able to have my phone open," she said yesterday.

Private Robert Poate from Delta Company 6th Battalion was just 23-years-old when he was killed with two other Diggers in a green-on-blue attack in his barracks in Afghanistan by a rogue Afghan soldier in August 2012.

Australian soldier Private Robbie Poate who was just 23-years-old when he was killed in Afghanistan. Picture: Supplied
Australian soldier Private Robbie Poate who was just 23-years-old when he was killed in Afghanistan. Picture: Supplied

Two years later, Janny was leaving for a formal Remembrance Day service when she received a call from a veteran in a desperate state.

She rushed to his house, calmed him down, took his kids to school before returning to her service plans when her telephone rang again and another unrelated veteran rang just wanting to talk.

Janny Poate doesn’t do Remembrance Day services. Instead, she lends an ear to those comrades who have come home broken. Picture Gary Ramage
Janny Poate doesn’t do Remembrance Day services. Instead, she lends an ear to those comrades who have come home broken. Picture Gary Ramage

"So how I see Remembrance Day now is I don't just think about Robbie but all the other boys thinking about their mates," she said.

"This is not just for us to remember but it's for a lot of these boys who have come back and need someone to talk to so I try and make myself available for any of these boys who ring.

 

 

"I'm just scared if one of them ring and I've put it (phone) on silent I'd never forgive myself.

"Some look at me as another mum … I've lost a son but have got a lot of boys."

Mrs Poate lives on a farm north of Canberra in NSW with her husband and struggling veterans now make pilgrimages to stay with them and their dogs. Picture: Gary Ramage
Mrs Poate lives on a farm north of Canberra in NSW with her husband and struggling veterans now make pilgrimages to stay with them and their dogs. Picture: Gary Ramage

Mrs Poate said losing her son in combat was devastating but she feels it's worse for the mothers and fathers who have lost sons and daughters to suicide since they've come home from service.

"We know there is an element of danger when they go to war, you are aware of it, you hope it never happens, it's horrible when it does but these mothers I've met live with this sense of guilt 'why didn't I do this, why didn't I do something more?'."

Everyone is trying to do their bit and the Poates support calls for a royal commission into suicide rates of ex-service men and women.

Mrs Poate said losing her son in combat was devastating. Picture: Supplied
Mrs Poate said losing her son in combat was devastating. Picture: Supplied

With her husband Hugh, Janny lives on a farm north of Canberra in NSW and struggling veterans now make pilgrimages to stay with them and their dogs.

One came for six months, mostly they come for a week or two to talk, have a laugh and eat Janny's now famous mini quiches.

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Some knew Robbie others don't but seek solace from others independent from their families who maybe know what they are going through.

Janny says it's not something they planned, it has just happened and she says because she is "a serial hugger" and it reminds her of Robbie.

"If he'd have come back he'd have done exactly this, that's why I will continue doing it," she said.

 

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