Robert received his medical education at Glasgow University, qualifying M.B. in 1879. He joined the Medical Services as Surgeon, afterwards Surgeon Captain on 5th February 1881, then served in the Ashanti Expedition from 1895 to 1896. He was promoted to R.A.M.C. Major on 5th February 1893, then served in South Africa from 1899 to 1902, during which time he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on 5th February 1901. On 14th January 1910 he gained the rank of Colonel, then on 14th January 1914 was placed on half pay. Due to the declaration of war on 4th August 1914, Robert was reverted back to full pay on the 5th August, and was placed on the headquarters of the Second Army Corps as their Deputy Director of Medical Services. He entered the war in France on 15th August 1914. At the end of 1914 the Staff of the Medical Services were reorganized and a circular memorandum was issued by the Director General of Medical Services, dated 17th January 1915, which included that Robert was to be promoted to the rank of temporary Surgeon-General, as well as becoming the Director of Medical Services to the Second Army. He served under the rank of temporary Surgeon-General, dated 2nd November 1914 to 17th February 1915, then received the rank of Surgeon-General on 18th February 1915 "For services rendered in connection with operations in the Field". In 1916, he was granted a Companion of the Order of Bath, as well as Commander of the Crown (of Belgium). In November 1917, the Second Army was moved to Italy. Robert accompanied the staff to Italy, but the Army Council decided to put in place a retired list of officers who had reached the age for compulsory retirement and his name was on that list. He, therefore, returned to France almost immediately after his arrival in Italy, but no longer held an administrative medical appointment in the field. By January 1918 he was retired.