March 5th 2021

First non-British female soldier joins Reserves in Lincolnshire

Private Bucur with her Oath of Allegiance certificate

Private Bucur with her Oath of Allegiance and Major Mitch Pegg

Private Catalina Bucur, originally from Romania, recently attested as an Army Reservist. The ceremony was the first attestation at 4 (Lincolnshire) Company to take place under Covid-secure conditions. Catalina is also unique in being the first non-British female soldier to join the unit.

Colour Sergeant Mat Hardy, 4 (Lincolnshire) Company, shared Catalina’s unusual story as a non-British female soldier.

In January 2021, Catalina Bucur was attested into the British Army at Grimsby Army Reserve Centre by Major Mitch Pegg, Officer Commanding 4 (Lincolnshire) Company, 3 Royal Anglian. Normally, attestations are business as usual for us here at 4 Company but this particular attestation stood out for a number of reasons.

Not only was this the first attestation of 2021, but it was also the first one conducted during the latest lockdown conditions. We used a specially procured glass screen and followed social distancing measures. Private Bucur was able to swear the Oath of Allegiance and be taken into service with the Adjutant General’s Corps (Staff and Personnel Support).

Catalina told us about the joining process: “It was easy. There were a lot of documents involved, a lot of questioning back and forth on my Army portal, but nothing was too much trouble. Every single person that I’ve been in contact with was more than helpful, supportive and friendly.

“The hardest part is always the first step. I remember my first lesson there, everything was new; new people, new information. Learning totally new skills can be quite challenging, but again, I met amazing people there. They made me feel so welcome, they made me believe that I belonged there, even I if didn’t yet! It is amazing how passionate everyone is about the job. The Army is a lifestyle rather than just a job, this idea is now implanted in my brain and in my heart.”

From communist Romania to Lincolnshire

Another first is that Catalina is the first non-British soldier in the history of 4 (Lincolnshire) Company. Catalina was born in Brasov, Romania when the country was in the midst of harsh austerity measures imposed by Nicolai Ceaușescu’s communist government. Catalina was brought up in a hardworking and loving family and was brought up with very deep values and standards. These beliefs are one of the main reasons she felt joining the Army Reserve would suit her perfectly.

Aged 19, Catalina left her home town for the first time to start at University studying Political Science. After starting work with a security company to help fund her studies, she regrettably became distracted. She eventually decided to move to Ireland so that she could discover the world and pursue a better lifestyle than in 1990’s Romania.

Catalina serving food at an event

Catalina works in hospitality in her civilian career

Arriving in Ireland unable to speak English, Catalina started work on a dairy farm before getting a job in a hotel restaurant in County Donegal. As her English improved, so did her range of responsibilities. In time, Catalina became a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, which is how she qualifies to join the British Army, despite being born outside of the UK.

Sights set on becoming a female Infantry soldier

However, the weather in north west Ireland became too much for Catalina and she accepted a job in hospitality in Grimsby. Whilst Grimsby is not exactly well known for its balmy climate, the damp weather should prepare Catalina for when she attempts the Combat Infantry Course at Catterick. Despite enlisting in the Adjutant Generals Corps, Private Bucur has her sights set on becoming the company’s second female Infantry soldier. She will need to improve her level of fitness but this is completely achievable. I tracked Catalina’s continuous improvement with her fitness through her recruitment journey.

Whilst driving home from work, Catalina heard a radio advert for the Army Reserve. It resonated enough with her to take that step and make an application. She has overcome many obstacles on her journey from a communist eastern bloc country to passing the Army Assessment Centre in Lichfield. She has shown the courage and determination to do so, particularly as a non-British soldier. Private Bucur has set her targets and is well on her way to accomplishing them one step at a time.

Catalina commented: “Now, that I’ve been attested, I’ve got the kit and the uniform, everything has moved to another level: this is actually happening! I can’t express in English phrases how proud this achievement makes me feel.”

Private Bucur with Major Mitch Pegg

Private Bucur with Major Mitch Pegg at the socially distanced attestation

4 (Lincolnshire) Company, 3 Royal Anglian is the only Army Reserve Infantry unit in Lincolnshire and is recruiting now.  Additional units of 3 Royal Anglian are based in Leicester and Lincoln in the East Midlands.

Email for more information or visit 3 Anglian Regiment.

"I can honestly say that I am stronger, happier and more confident since I've started. I am taking this very seriously and I look forward to continuing with my training." Private Catalina Bucur