Robert received his medical training in Dublin, qualifying M.B. B.Ch. in 1912. On 26th July 1912 he took up a regular army commission at the rank of Lieutenant within the R.A.M.C. He entered the war in France on 22nd August 1914, and served as the Regimental Medical Officer of the 1st Bn. East Lancashire Regiment. One 26th August 1914 the enemy attacked the 4th Division at Haucourt and Ligny. The Division had previously taken to the field without it’s field ambulances, which meant the care, treatment and evacuation of the wounded during this attack was left to the medical establishment of the regiments. It was during this time that Robert was taken captive by the Germans and sent to a prisoner of war camp in Germany. He was repatriated on 6th January 1915. On 30th March 1915 he gained promotion to the rank of Captain. On 4th May 1915 he arrived in Aldershot, reporting himself for duty with No 17 Casualty Clearing Station. He then sailed with the unit to Havre on S.S. St Petersburg, arriving on 21st May 1915. On 16th June 1915 he reported sick and was admitted into No 2 General Hospital.
On 26th July 1915, at 5 p.m., he joined the camp of a sub-section of the unit stationed at Remy Siding. He was placed on the sick list again on 12th September 1915, suffering with a fever, N.Y.D. This time he was transferred to No 12 Casualty Clearing Station where blood tests were taken on the 15th, but which came back negative the following day. He rejoined the unit after discharge from No 12 Casualty Clearing Station on the 21st September. On 5th November 1915 he took over temporary command of the unit whilst the commanding officer was on leave. He was admitted again to No 12 Casualty Clearing Station on 4th December 1915, again with a N.Y.D. fever. He returned to duty on 16th December 1915. He again took over temporary command of the unit on 4th January 1916; on 4th January 1917 for 10 days, and also on 5th January 1918 whilst the commanding officer was appointed A.D.M.S., 20th Division. He left No 17 Casualty Clearing Station to take up duty with the 101st Field Ambulance on 21st February 1918. On 12th March 1918 he was placed on the sick list and admitted into the unit. He returned to duty on 16th March. He again took over temporary command of the unit from 11th - 21st July 1918. On 18th October 1918 he departed from the unit, with 19 O/Rs, for temporary duty with V Corps Walking Wounded Station at Walincourt. He became the commanding officer of the field ambulance on 27th March 1919, but left the unit on 18th April 1919 to report to the D.M.S., Army of the Rhine. During this time, from 4th - 21st January 1918 and from 21st February to 19th April 1919 he was appointed the rank of acting Major. He was awarded the Military Cross whilst serving with the 101st Field Ambulance “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. With the enemy within 300 yards of a Divisional Rest Station he got a car loaded with wounded and took those who could walk and one stretcher case across the fields. Although knocked down by a H.E. shell, he finally got them to shelter.”
From July to October 1919 he was stationed in North Russia, then in 1920 to 1921 was stationed in Mesopotamia. He then moved to India from 1921 to 1924. On 26th July 1924 he gained promotion to the rank of Major, and on 2nd August 1934 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. He was posted to China from 1927 to 1930, and to Bermuda from 1933 to 1935. From 1938 to 1943 he returned to India, serving as the commanding officer at the British Military Hospitals in Lucknow from 1938 to 1942, and Nowshera in 1942. He retired with pay (r.p.) on 8th May 1943, but was re-employed the same day at the lower rank of Major. He reverted to r.p. and his rank of Lieutenant Colonel was restored on 29th September 1946.