Earl M. Holcomb wrote 43 letters to his family in Elyria, Ohio, while serving in France during World War I as a cook for the British Expeditionary Force's Number 9 (Lakeside, USA) General Hospital (also known as United States Army Base Hospital No. 4). He addressed 40 letters to his mother, and 1 each to his father, his sister Helen, and a female friend. Holcomb described his kitchen duties, leisure activities, and other aspects of military life.
Holcomb wrote all of his letters while stationed in France between October 11, 1917, and March 27, 1919. He provided details about cooking meals for hospital patients, mentioning specific foods served to the soldiers, and occasionally describing the necessary preparatory work. Holcombe frequently urged his mother not to worry about him and shared updates about his brother Ralph, who also worked at the hospital. He responded to news of his other siblings, who remained in Elyria, Ohio, and reported his receipt of packages and letters from home. Holcomb attempted to learn the French language, and he noted his other leisure activities, such as reading and hiking. He wrote regularly between October 1917 and October 1918, and less frequently between November 1918 and March 1919; 1 letter is undated.