Before the War he worked as a boilerman, fireman and stoker at the Carluke Steam Laundry in Fife. He married Catherine Pearson in 1911 who was a laundry packer ..... perhaps working at the same laundry. They had two children before the War intervened.
We know that Robert enlisted in Hamilton, Lanarkshire in 1914. He was a tall, well built young man and spent the first two years of the War working as a bomb instructor in one of the London Training Centers where they taught raw recruits the basics in warfare.
After the heaviest bombardment of the war from Allied heavy guns, The Battle of The Somme reached a climax on 1st July 1916 when Allied Forces left their muddy trenches and went over the top ...... and were cut down by the Germans who had been largely untouched by our offensive. More and more troops were sent to the front ..... presumably including Robert, who arrived in France in October 1916 serving with the 2nd battalion of the Scots Guards.
On 15 November 1916, 25 year old Lance Sergeant Robert Sandeman, so The Strathearn Herald reported, "was treacherously killed by one of a party of Germans who he and other guardsmen were bringing in as POWs after an attack on enemy trenches. The deceased had been in front of the party directing the way when he was shot from behind".
It is conjecture, but The Battle of Ancre was taking place on the Somme between 13th and 18th November, it may have been some of the 7,000 prisoners taken as a result of this Allied offensive which Robert was guarding.
Why unlucky ? Because of the wintery weather conditions, The 1916 Battle of The Somme ended on 18th November and Robert was killed just three days before it finished.
One small mystery which has not been resolved is that Robert is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing on The Somme which commemorates the names of 72,000 officers and men who died with no known grave. If Robert was shot in the back as the newspaper reports, why wasn't his body buried with a headstone in one of the Commonwealth War Grave Cemeteries ?