Robert was the son of Joseph and Jane Watkinson of Warwick, Queensland. He enlisted at Toowoomba in February 1917 when he was a twenty six year old married man working as an Orchardist.
Robert joined the 47th Battalion, 10th Reinforcement and sailed from Australia on the ship HMAT A28 Miltiades in August 1917. This ship arrived at Glasgow, Scotland in October. Robert was sent to France at the beginning of 1918 and was killed in action on 5 April when hit by a snipers bullet. He has no known grave and his name is inscribed on the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, France. His personal effects were to be returned to his wife but were lost when the ship carrying them sank at sea.
His brother Vernon enlisted in 1914 and served with the 15th Battalion at Gallipoli and in France where he became a prisoner of war. He returned to Australia in March 1919.
Although there appears Robert had no connection to Inverell, his name is recorded on the Inverell Honor Roll and Cenotaph and in 1919 he was one of the men for whom a memorial tree was planted in Kurrajong Parade, Inverell. Perhaps Robert had relatives at Inverell who submitted his name for these memorials.