He was born on 13 August 1890 in the small village of Colmonell, Ayrshire, where his father was the dairyman at the farm.
Robert grew up to also work on the farm but at some point before 1916 he decided to emigrate to Canada, where he was also a farmer.
The move far away from his home however, could not defend Robert against the ravages of WW1, as his new home of Canada was the senior dominion in the British Empire and automatically at war with Germany upon the British declaration.
Robert signed up for active service on 1st January 1916 in Winnipeg. He wasn't married and is recorded to be 25 years of age, 5' 3 1/2" tall with a chest measurement of 34." His complexion was fair, his eyes blue-brown and his hair was dark brown. It is most likely that Robert fought in the Somme in 1916 alongside many other Canadians.
The Battle of the Somme, July–November 1916.
The Somme offensive had no great geographical objectives. Its purpose was threefold – to relieve pressure on the French armies at Verdun, to inflict as heavy losses as possible on the German armies, and to aid allies on other fronts by preventing any further transfer of Germany troops from the west. On 1 July a seven-day assault began and British losses numbered 57, 470. During this time the 1st Newfoundland Regiment is decimated when attacking German trenches. Mark I Tanks first appear in the Battle at Somme, though premature the psychological impact is astounding and the sheer sight of it makes many German soldiers surrender immediately. The toll of the 5-month campaign cannot be statistically verified by a single reliable source, however, historians have come into the range of German losses being roughly 670,000 and an Allied total of 623,907.
The Canadian Expeditionary Force eventually numbered 260 infantry battalions, two named infantry battalions (The Royal Canadian Regiment and Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry), 13 mounted rifle regiments, 13 railway troop battalions, 5 pioneer battalions, as well as numerous ancillary units including field and heavy artillery batteries, ambulance, medical, dental, forestry, labour, tunnelling, cyclist, and service units.
A distinct entity within the Canadian Expeditionary Force was the Canadian Machine Gun Corps. It consisted of several motor machine gun battalions, the Eatons, Yukon, and Borden Motor Machine Gun Batteries, and nineteen machine gun companies. During the summer of 1918, these units were consolidated into four machine gun battalions, one being attached to each of the four divisions in the Canadian Corps.
After distinguishing themselves in battle from the Second Battle of Ypres, through the Somme and particularly in the Battle of Arras at Vimy Ridge in April 1917, and Passchendaele the Canadian Corps came to be regarded as an exceptional force by both Allied and German military commanders. Since they were mostly unmolested by the German army's offensive manoeuvres in the spring of 1918, the Canadians were ordered to spearhead the last campaigns of the War from the Battle of Amiens on August 8, 1918, which ended in a tacit victory for the Allies when the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918.
The Canadian Expeditionary Force lost 60,661 men during the war, representing 9.28% of the 619,636 who enlisted.
Robert seems to have survived the war and at some point returned to the UK, finally dying in Coventry, Warwickshire in 1984 at the grand old age of 93.