After a distinguished career at Campbell College, Belfast, Robert entered Queen’s University, Belfast, with an entrance scholarship, and obtained fifth place in a year of keen competition at the Science Scholarship Examination. He became a prominent member of the O.T.C. In February 1912, he obtained the Royal Humane Society, for a deed of gallantry near Downpatrick. He was a competent swimmer, and held the bronze medal of the Royal Life Saving Society. He was also a keen horseman. In April 1913, he obtained a commission in the R.A.M.C. (S.R.), taking his training at Aldershot that year. He graduated in medicine in July 1915, qualifying M.B., B.Ch., and was sent to France, arriving on 28th September, he was attached to the 77th Field Ambulance. He was awarded the Military Cross during the Battle of the Somme, “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He led stretcher parties and worked in the open under heavy fire continuously for thirty-four hours. He set a splendid example of courage and determination.” One of his superior officers wrote: “The feat that won him the Military Cross was a remarkably fine achievement. He had no fear. His courage and devotion to duty made him very popular, both with officers and men”. He was killed on the opening day of the great German offensive, near Bapaume. Letters from his superior officers spoke of his courage and the high order of his professional skill. One closely associated with him for 11 months in the unit wrote: “He had a record of steady and devoted service second to none, and his personal qualities were of such sterling value as to win the love and admiring regard of all.” Robert was the eldest son of the Rev. Robert McElney, M.A., and Mary Elizabeth McElney (elder daughter of H Cambell Davison of Dublin) of The Manse, Downpatrick, Co. Down.